10 January 2011

Miliband does well with instant rebuttal + 3 things that Alan Johnson does know

I didn't see the whole of Ed Miliband's press conference this morning, but did see quite a lot of comments on Twitter suggesting that he did better in the Q-A session after his formal statement than in the statement itself.

As I'd already questioned his effectiveness in 'face-to-camera' pieces a few days ago (HERE), I was intrigued enough to see whether any of the news channels had posted anything from the Q-A session yet.

The BBC instantly obliged with the following short clip, that is indeed rather interesting (full report HERE).

Welcoming smiles from Ed Miliband?
Note that, when Joey Jones from Sky News refers to Shadow Chancellor Alan Johnson's weekend gaffe, Mr Miliband grins (at 38 & 40 seconds in).

Not so much 'nervous' grins, I suggest, as an 'I know what you're talking about, I'm a good sport with a sense of humour, I expected that and what's more I've got a prepared answer up my sleeve' sort of grin.

And that's what he had: an instant rebuttal contrasting Johnson favourably with Chancellor Osborne, explained by three things about the economy that the former does know about:

Instant rebuttal as a useful weapon for interviewees
In conversation, answering "No" to a question that's looking for a "Yes" - instantly and without any delay, "ums", "ers" or other particles indicating that a 'dispreferred' answer is on its way - doesn't happen very often (for more on 'dispreferred answers', see Did The Godfather feature the longest pause and most blatant lie in the history of movies?)

But it really comes into its own when you want to ensure time to give reasons why you are disagreeing so immediately. As soon as you've done it, the floor is still yours for a while, as your questioner will expect and wait for you to explain why you don't agree before he/she speaks again.

If you then package your message as a contrast between Chancellor and Shadow-chancellor and explain it with brief list of three things that the latter does know, you're likely to come across as decisive, articulate and confident. It might even persuade or convince some of your listeners that you're right.

A promising day for Miliband
On the basis of this specimen, at least, I can see why the Twitterati thought that Miliband did better in the Q-A session than in the statement that preceded it. More generally, it may be evidence that he and his communication team are beginning to get the hang of things.

1 comment:

Alex Zeta said...

I think an instant rebuttal only indicates that the person you're talking was planning to say no to you already :)No really says no in an instant he he/she truly wanted to listen. I also have public speaking blog. YOu might want to check it out and share your thought. They would be much appreciated. http://publicspeakingbusinessunitedstates.blogspot.com/