It’s not that often that we get such a direct opportunity to compare and contrast the presentation styles of our political leaders. This article from the BBC, covering yesterday’s Annual Conference of the CBI is interesting. The conference was addressed by three of the UK’s leading politicians:
- Prime Minister David Cameron (leader of the Conservative party)
- Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (leader of the Liberal-Democrat party)
- Leader of the Opposition Ed Milliband (leader of the Labour party).
On one level, they are remarkably similar. Middle-aged white men in dark suits with white shirts and gesticulating hands talking about the importance of the UK’s relationship with Europe. However, the stand-out point, noted by many of the attendees afterwards, is that Cameron and Clegg chose to stand forward on the stage to more directly engage with the audience, while Milliband spoke from behind the lectern.
In another forum, the lectern could have appeared statesman-like. Here, it just served to reinforce the accepted view that Milliband is “anti-business”. The contrast makes him appear defensive.
The TV footage adds a sense of isolation. Both Cameron and Clegg have another member of the panel behind them, listening politely. Milliband is attended by two glasses of water.
A small decision has a big impact.