Speak. Repeat. (Even If It Feels Strange)

Speak. Repeat. (Even If It Feels Strange)

By Bill Connor, Partner, Oratorio

With the 2018 mid-terms just around the corner (and plenty of local and special elections even before then), many first-time candidates for office are learning the hard way that stump speeches and media interviews require a lot of repetition. As I said, a lot of repetition.

To most people, this feels awkward at first. After all, in most normal social situations, people feel a little daft when they repeat themselves. They agree with the old Talking Heads lyric: “Say something once – why say it again?” But you can’t behave that way when you’re running for an elected position.

Candidates need to assume that every audience is seeing and hearing the messages for the first time. This is true for two reasons. A particular audience on a given day may literally be hearing the message for the first time. But even more importantly, even audiences who’ve heard it before need to hear it again.

Countless studies have been done which show that modern audiences have ridiculously low attention spans. Unless the information is incredibly compelling, shocking or close-to-home, people don’t really hear it, or at least they don’t retain it very well, until they hear it several times. They’ve got so many distractions in their lives that they can’t wrap their heads around everything they hear.

So our advice for candidates (and for corporate communicators and others who need to deliver key messages) is: relax and deliver that speech or interview with passion, as if it were the first time every time.

Imagine you’re U2. Every night for months, they go out and play “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” for thousands of people, as if they just wrote it the day before and their lives depended on it. Do the same and you might not become a rock star, but you just might win your race.