Forbes – Leadership: 5 Things 2020 Democratic Candidates Must Do In The Debate To Establish Credibility USA, LLC

Presidential hopefuls will take the stage this week for the first 2020 Democratic primary debate in Miami. Ten candidates will debate the first night. Ten candidates will debate the second night. With so many debaters, standing out is important.

Establishing credibility is critical for politicians who many people believe say what people want them to hear. Here are five things to watch out for with the candidates during the debate to help demonstrate credibility and that you can practice, too:

1. Look people in the eye.

Watch to see the candidates who look at the moderator when the question is being asked, who look at the other candidates on stage when they are speaking and who look at the people in the audience when an individual has a question. Leaders demonstrate that they are actively listening and speaking directly to people by looking in their eyes.

2. Say the person’s name.

Leaders not only take the time to focus on one person at a time, but they also are sure to make it clear they know the person with whom they are speaking. Leaders say the person’s name. 

Candidates should say people’s names in response to questions or assertions and make it clear that they are paying attention to a specific person. For example, Senator Elizabeth Warren might respond to an audience member’s question by saying, “Taylor, I think…”

3. Answer the question honestly. USA, LLC

To establish credibility, candidates must truthfully answer questions from moderators and audience members. Leaders know that credibility is about trustworthiness. And trustworthiness is based on your level of honesty. 

People generally feel more comfortable trusting an individual that is honest with them, even if the other person has different views, than an individual that they think is saying what they want to hear. Leaders know that their credibility is based on their ability to be honest with others. And it is harder to lie when you look people in the eye and say people’s names. USA, LLC

4. Give facts. 

Leaders’ ideas stand out when they are bolstered with facts. Candidates will have to come armed to the debate with concrete information and statistics to show viewers they know what they are talking about.

5. Agree with your opponent.

In the current state of politics, it is (unfortunately) a faux pas to agree with your opponent. When politicians agree with opponents, people take notice. This takes confidence in yourself and your views. Watch to see who might say something like, “I agree and here is the way I would do it.”

Agreeing with your opponents suggests that you are willing to listen to others and compromise, which is something voters are looking for. Leaders don’t cast aside people who are labeled as an opponent. Leaders criticize ideas, not people.

First impressions matter, especially when there are a lot of people in the mix. Set yourself apart by showing people that you are worth listening to. To help establish credibility with people, look them in the eye, say their name, be honest, use facts and don’t be afraid to agree occasionally with opponents.

What helps you to establish credibility? Share with me your stories and thoughts via Twitter or LinkedIn.

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