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EXECUTIVE PRESENCE: 20 Tips for Watching the Presidential Debates

election 2016

Candidates “are on the biggest stage in the world, handling three jobs at once. And they cannot fail at any single one of the three and win.”
-Samuel L. Popkin, Author
The Candidate What It Takes to Win – and Hold – the White House

As politics continue to take a mainstream position in the lives of many Americans for 2016, I would be remiss in not addressing that tomorrow evening, it is estimated that more than 80 to 180 million viewers will watch the First Presidential Debate for 2016.

While Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump address the traditional concerns of our Nation’s security and prosperity,  the concern for the “Presidential Image” will take center stage.


The political junkies (myself included), enjoy the updated research on the traditional lessons learned from the first televised Presidential Debate in 1960 between Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon and the recent 2012 Presidential Debates between Republican Nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. We have heard all the faux pas from the five o’clock shadow on television (Nixon), winking (Palin), humor (Reagan), checking watch (Bush), sighing (Gore) to a lack of aggressiveness (Obama). However, this year maybe a special year with a number looming issues as related to the future Commander in Chief’s Executive Presence.


Two of my favorite books serve as great reference material in preparing for viewing the upcoming Presidential Debates, Author Samuel L. Popkin’s, 2012 book, The Candidate What It Takes to Win – and Hold – the White House (CSPAN Book Review:

the candidate poplin











and Sylvie di Giusto’s 2014 book, The Image of Leadership How Leaders Package Themselves to Stand Out for the Right Reasons (Bestseller TV Video:

image guad











In both books we learn key ideas such as how some thwarted their campaigns, how US presidential candidates win elections and how to package and present yourself in a compelling way. Additionally, we learn why certain candidates won while others lost, self-confidence is crucial for those who want to get ahead, and why you must make the most of your physical assets and liabilities


Ninety-nine percent of the time, you will want to fulfill people’s expectations of who you are based on your appearance and communications.
-Sylvie di Giusto, Author
The Image of Leadership How Leaders Package Themselves to Stand Out for the Right Reasons

Here are 20 Nuggets to Remember in Watching the 2016 Presidential Debates:
1. As imperfect as this process is, the American presidential primary election usually yields the best candidates.
2. Candidates should accept their physical appearance, but package themselves in a compelling way.
3. Each type of candidate requires a different campaign strategy.
4. Convince voters that they understand them and their struggles.
5. How candidates package themselves will determine whether people respect them.
6. No matter the candidate’s body type or genetic heritage, self-confidence always will make them look like a winner.
7. People develop good or bad impressions within seven seconds of meeting someone new.
8. People judge candidate’s by their appearance, their friends and other relationships.
9. Candidates who can’t control how they look don’t appear to be leaders. Leaders seem to be in full control of their internal and external circumstances.
10. Presidential candidates join the race as “challengers,” “incumbents” or “successors.”
11. Present a vision for how their election will benefit the nation.
12. The “message box” is a tool candidates use to focus their image and communications, and to position themselves in relation to their opponents.
13. Must head a well-run, highly functional campaign; it foreshadows their ability to serve as America’s chief executive.
14. Dress one level higher than their current role.
15. Present the image people have of leaders.
16. To win the White House, you must succeed at three endeavors (convince voters of your empathy for them, vision, well run campaign)
17. US presidential candidates who seem destined to win often don’t.
18. Shift strategy seamlessly when outside forces demand it.
19. Understand that behavior, communication skills and “digital footprint” also convey your standing.
20. Professional imprint, includes attire, attitude and verbal communication.

2016In summary in reviewing the works of elections expert Samuel L. Popkin, a professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego, and Professional image consultant Sylvie di Giusto, we question the validity of the American electoral system and wonder if it is truly a good or bad system? If the conflict of good vs bad actually yields the best qualified candidates for the period of time in our Nation? We all would agree that just as our Nation has evolved so has our political process, and it is best suited for the times we currently live within.

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