There’s this saying that if you are nervous about public speaking you should picture the crowd naked. I think the idea is that you will be put at ease by the imagined foolishness of the unclothed audience compared to your relative and clothed normalcy. Depending on the quality of your imagination, however, it seems like this sort of strategy could backfire terribly.
I mean, surely the effectiveness of this advice turns fairly dramatically on the particular physical composition of the crowd and your ability to conjure them, right? The thought of your classmates? Probably effectively amusing. A plumber’s convention? Not so much. A Daytona Beach crowd of Spring Break coeds? Might bring your entire speech to a screeching halt. I’m just saying. Be careful.
The first presidential debate was this evening. Here’s to hoping that the moderator, Jim Lehrer, was not too accurately imagined by either candidate. But, whether or not the naked-crowd technique was specifically employed, the debate is full of all sort of psychological strategy.
One of the most peculiar is the dance of expectation-setting the two campaigns waltz in the days leading up to the debate. The campaigns actually leak praise for their opponent’s chances while diminishing their own. Both sides had all sorts of reasons why the other would prevail. Gout. Low blood sugar. A pulled hammy. Better hair. This sort of underdog baiting enhances the likelihood that any reasonable performance will be viewed as a win relative to expectations.
There are numerous other examples of campaigns “thinking out loud” either as trial balloon or set up. It’s all very unnatural. Romney’s campaign confessed to having discovered the secret to winning the debate which you would never, in fact, share if you actually thought it was the secret to winning the debate.
We have a month more. So pace yourself.
I decided to try a new idea tonight. A lot of political bloggers live-blog various events, especially the debates. I have been meaning for a while to try and live freestyle one. Tonight was not an ideal time for me to try; I have a long day tomorrow. But, I thought I would test a beta version. So, I wrote an initial verse and then freestyled certain portions of the debate as I watched. The debates are literally playing in the background as I recorded. For the first two versions below, verse one is written and prerecorded. The second verse is the topical freestyle. In the third version, both verses are freestyled.
It’s kind of a mess. But, that’s just growing pains. Sort of thinking out loud.
Plus, I imagined all of you naked and I felt a lot better about myself.
Beat by Dave Santos.
Thinking out Loud Pt. 1
Romney Tax Plan (9:18)
Thinking out Loud Pt. 2
Social Security (9:44)
Thinking out Loud Pt. 3
Health Care (10:06) – verse 1
Dodd Frank (9:58) – verse 2