Clint Eastwood’s sales presentation

As a sales presentation coach I watch with great interest the political speeches at the conventions. Especially since these speeches are, in essence, persuasive sales presentations. While I thought there were a number of very good speeches at the recent Republican convention there was one in particular that has created more buzz than all the rest.

Clint Eastwood, Hollywood icon, delivered a speech that was part political and part stand-up comedy routine – complete with an empty chair as a prop.

Clint's sales presentation

Clint’s sales presentation

As I watched it live I was both captivated and distressed. Clint had some lines that were undeniably powerful – “you own this country…the politicians work for us…and if someone isn’t doing the job you gotta let ‘em go.”  All delivered with that great raspy voice that has served him so well for so long.

On the other hand he seemed at times to be groping for what to say next and rambling through other portions. It was obvious to me that he had not practiced. That he was winging it. I wondered how he could deliver a speech to a live audience of millions without proper preparation.

Over the next few days I read some reviews of Clint’s performance and a number of people made the case that Clint was not unprepared but in fact delivered the exact performance that he planned. It would be absurd, this argument goes, to think that a successful actor and director for over 50 years would deliver a speech of this importance without thoroughly thinking through how it should be both delivered as well as received. The argument continues that, what Clint was actually trying to do was NOT look like a polished politician.

After mulling it over I actually think that argument has some merit. But I don’t know the truth and likely never will. Here’s what I do know, every once in a while I am reminded of the incredible power of a presentation. Of the impact of the spoken word and how it’s delivered. Clint Eastwood reminded me of that once again.

Was Clint rambling and out of touch? Or hitting the notes exactly as planned? I’m not sure but a recent favorability poll in Florida gives us a hint at the results. Obama 48%, Romney 47% and Clint…72%

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