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By Karen Cortell Reisman

First Ever U.S. Debate  --  Chicago, 1960  --  Kennedy v. Nixon

Kennedy arrived in Chicago rested and tanned. Nixon shuffled in with 102-degree temperature and nursing a knee infection that caused him to lose weight and look gaunt.

Asked if they wanted make-up, both declined and Nixon's crew hastily applied some "Lazy Shave" over-the-counter cosmetic to cover his famous five-o'clock shadow.

Out of Nixon's view, Kennedy's team gave him a full cosmetic touch-up.

According to Leonard Mlodinow in Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior Nixon came out ahead in this debate IF YOU LISTENED ON THE RADIO. His content and knowledge surpassed Kennedy's.

But - when viewed on TV, and in spite of Kennedy's higher pitched voice (we give more power and credibility to lower pitched voices) Kennedy won this debate.

By an extremely slight margin, Kennedy won the election just six weeks later.

What a political debate teaches you about communicating to win:

  1. Content counts.
  2. Nonverbal counts even more.
  3. Do both well.

Most Popular Speak For Yourself® Blog Posts this Quarter:

Be a Better Boss by Learning from "Undercover Boss"

7 Strategies on Avoiding the 'Dull & Boring' Communication Killer

Lessons from My Aunt Hermine

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