Communication Musts For America’s Top Office

The “command” in commander-in-chief implies an ability to communicate, yet the two men looking for the November win are both lacking in their own ways. Here are six communication suggestions any executive can put to work.

Communication Musts For America’s Top Office


I haven’t written much this year about presidential campaign communication because, frankly, I’m bored by it this go-round. But people have been asking, so here it goes (or watch my video here).

First, these two candidates, Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney, need to start telling the truth. The public can smell BS 10 miles away and this campaign stinks to high heaven. I don’t know what the truth would sound like, quite honestly, they’ve been lying to us for so long. In the list of winning communication skills, telling the truth is at the top.

Second, this one’s for Governor, actually former Governor Romney. (I never have been able to figure out why the last public office someone holds is their title for the rest of their lives. But I digress.) Anyway, Governor, There are 3 things that have to be in place to beat an incumbent president:

  1. The voters have to be in considerable pain (check)
  2. The challenger has to be a much better communicator than the incumbent (hmmm)
  3. Voters have to feel you’re like them in some way, that you understand their lives and their struggles (hmmm, again).

So, Governor, do not spend any more time until election day being photographed at your mansions or riding in any of your toys (that includes you, too, Mrs. Anne Romney). It’s an image thing and you know that saying about pictures being worth more than 1000 words. Remember John Kerry windsurfing? Enough said. So far you’re 1 for 3. 

Finally, this one’s for President Obama (well, he is president, currently at least). Mr. President, for a great orator, you are the worst storyteller I have ever seen. That in four years you have not been able to sell your ideas to the citizens amounts to nothing less than communication malpractice (and for those who say he can’t sell his ideas because they’re bad ideas, nonsense. Bad ideas get traction all the time). Either you’re not listening to your hired guns or they’re giving you terrible advice. In either case, here is your assignment:

  1. You have to tell a good story that will resonate with voters. This is the lynchpin.
  2. You have to repeat it over and over again until you can barely stand it anymore.
  3. You have to stick with it until Election Day. 

These principles are always true. That hasn’t changed. I don’t care what the professional pundits say, or the polls, for that matter.


Advantage: Obama.

Ruth Sherman is a speech coach for CEOs, celebrities, politicians, and entrepreneurs. Connect with her via Twitter, Facebook,
Linkedin, or YouTube.

[Obama Image: Flickr user Nasa; Romney Image: Flickr user Dave Lawrence]


About the author

Ruth Sherman, M.A., is a strategic communications consultant focusing on preparing business leaders, politicians, celebrities, and small business entrepreneurs to leverage critical public communications including keynote speeches, webcasts, investor presentations, road shows, awards presentations, political campaigns and media contact. Her clients hail from the A-list of international business including General Electric, JP Morgan (NY, London, Frankfurt), Timex Group, Deloitte and Dubai World.