Last night’s Republican debate in Michigan was clearly a low point for Texas Governor Rick Perry. When asked about his claim that, as President, he would eliminate three federal government agencies, he could only remember two of them. He got suggestions from Ron Paul. He looked at notes, and after almost a minute of trying he finally said, “oops.”
Oops isn’t the half of it!
When you are in the public eye, whether you’re running for office, representing a large corporation, or making the case for funding a nonprofit, you need to know your message! And it’s more than a matter of remembering talking points. You have to actually believe in what you’re saying.
If you have a deep belief in something, and can distill that belief into short talking points, you don’t need to memorize them – you just know them.
If someone asked you what your dog looks like, would you have to memorize your answer? No, you would just describe your dog because you know him so well.
If people are running for President of the United States, arguably the most important job in the world, shouldn’t they have a deep understanding of why they are running? And shouldn’t that understanding inform their message? Without having to memorize and possibly forget things?
Yes, I know, politicians hire people like me to coach them on their debate performances and to help them get their “messaging” down. But in the end, the politician needs to know what he or she is talking about.
Rick Perry probably just ended his run by not knowing his message well enough.