- Blog post
Our leaders need to talk less and show more
I’ve been watching the national conventions. Well, okay, not in their entirety — just during pitching changes and the seventh-inning stretch.
But even with this limited exposure, I believe I’ve discovered a trend:
These people sure do talk a lot.
Hour after hour. Night after night. Talk talk talk.
Even on the Jumbotron — which, as I understand it, can show pictures of anything — what do they choose to show? People talking.
Now, I’m no political genius, but I can offer some valuable advice to both candidates: They should watch our Quick Take Rapid Learning Module called “Getting Your Buyer to See the Light.” In fact, they — and you — can view it for free. Just click on this link.
We created the module for salespeople, but the lessons apply to anyone who’s seeking to influence or enlighten someone. And in fact, the research behind it comes from the political arena. Researchers wanted to find the best way to get people to reconsider deeply held beliefs — especially when those beliefs run counter to the facts. (Is any of this starting to sound familiar?)
So they found a bunch of Republicans who believed that the economy had gotten worse after Obama took office, and a bunch of Democrats who believed that George W. Bush’s “surge” strategy in Iraq had been a dismal failure — neither of which were true. Then they tried to convince these people that they were wrong.
You really should watch the module — it’s only 5 minutes and 39 seconds long — but I’ll give away the punch line. Talk didn’t work. You could talk all day and people would stick to their version of the facts.
What did work were visuals. In the experiment, these visuals were simple charts showing the growth of the economy in Obama’s first year and the decline in combat deaths after the surge strategy was put in place.
The reason people put more faith in visuals than words, the researchers speculated, is because visuals are in the “native language” of the brain. In fact, the old adage “seeing is believing” turns out to have a neurological basis. The brain perceives images as, literally, “true.” But it processes words as an “argument” that is open to dispute.
Some voters this year will be old enough to recall Ross Perot’s independent bid in 1992, which relied heavily on charts and graphs. Until his campaign died of a series of self-inflicted wounds, Perot led both Bill Clinton and Herbert Walker Bush in the polls. I suspect those nerdy charts had something to do with his popularity.
I don’t want to presume to tell anyone how to run a presidential campaign (which of course is exactly what I’m doing here). But if it were me, I’d talk less and show more pictures.