12 Best And Worst Communication Practices From The Second Trump-Biden Televised Debate

In their last debate before Election Day, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden showed their true colors — again — before a national television audience. In addition to making their best arguments why they should occupy the White House for the next four years, the two political leaders provided business leaders with several examples of best and worst communication practices. In crisis situations, executives should embrace the best practices — and avoid the worst ones at all cost.

Best Practices

Connect With Your Audience

Biden directed many of his comments to the real audience that night — the tens of millions people who were watching at home. By looking at the television camera several times, Biden was able to connect with voters. Trump, on the other hand, rarely looked into the camera, choosing to direct his frequent criticisms directly at Biden.

Show Empathy

Biden outscored Trump when it came to showing he knew what was important to voters and would address their concerns if elected president. The list included Covid-19, energy, and a vision for the country.

Accept Responsibility

Trump finally said that he accepted full responsibility for the impact of the pandemic — but continued to blame China for spreading the disease in the first place.

Use Your Voice To Your Advantage

The two rivals used their voices to their advantage to make and emphasize their points or to ask pointed questions of each other.

Demonstrate Energy and Enthusiasm

Biden and Trump both showed energy and enthusiasm for what they were saying. Their appropriate use of hand gestures and other body movements helped to underscore how strongly they felt about their beliefs.

If You Can’t Say It, Then Show It

The two candidates did not always need microphones to get their messages across. When their microphones were muted, Trump and Biden did a good job using facial expressions to make it crystal clear what they thought about what the other was saying.

Worst Practices

Turn People Off

Though the debate may have been Trump’s last opportunity to persuade such a large audience of voters, he insisted on using tactics that often alienate people: name-calling, fear-mongering, making unsubstantiated and outrageous statements, and ignoring obvious facts that most people know to be true, such as that the pandemic continues to rage across the country.

Confuse People

Trump often talked about things that likely mystified voters who have not been been paying much attention to the presidential campaign, including references to coyotes and a laptop computer belonging to Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son. One of the President’s accusations in particular — that Joe Biden sold pillows and sheets — even mystified veteran political analysts and commentators who said they had no idea what he was talking about.

Make It Personal

Trump often gravitated to personal attacks on Biden and his son Hunter. Biden, by contrast, did not make personal references to or attack members of the President’s family. Speaking again into the camera and to the American people, the Democratic candidate said of Trump’s refusal to talk about substantive issues, “This is not about his family and my family. This is about your family. And your family is hurting badly.”

Damage Your Credibility

The President said a number of things that undercut his credibility and called into question his knowledge of facts, figures, and reality. This included claiming that windmills “kill all the birds”; that he was the “least racist person in the room”; that he had done more for the Black community than any president in history — except for Abraham Lincoln; and that “99 percent of people recover” from Covid-19.

Repeat Negative Accusations About Yourself

Trump, more than once, reminded people about the negative things people have said about him such as when he said, “People say I’m a racist.”

Contradict Experts

The President said that the US had “rounded the curve ” on the pandemic and that there would soon be a vaccine for Covid-19. Both claims flew in the face of recent statements by health experts and members of his own administration.

Final Verdicts

In public polling immediately after last night’s debate, most people said Biden won. What the two presidential nominees said and how they said it may prove to be the tipping points that help people decide who to vote for on Election Day — or validate the decisions of the 51 million voters who had already cast their ballots.

Crisis management expert, author, podcast host; Leadership Strategy contributor for Forbes.com; author of “Crisis Ahead”. More info at PublicRelations.com.