Presidential Powers of Persuasion: Where Did They Go Right – And Wrong?

As the US Presidential campaign comes to an end, mistakes have been made by both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It’s interesting now to measure their triumphs – and their disasters – in terms of their powers of leadership, influence and persuasion.

Looking back at the campaign, I’ve put together Ten Ways To Get People On Side. It’s not hard to see where each of them scored – or bombed:


  1. 1 Be authentic. Never lie, never say what you don’t mean – and never try to be someone you’re not.
  2. 2 Know your audience. Who are you speaking to? And what do they want from you? Make your message about them – not you.
  3. 3 Don’t lash out at your critics. Rise above them. If you’re attacked in public, smile and answer calmly, professionally and constructively. Nobody likes an unseemly slanging match.
  4. 4 If there are skeletons in your closet – get them out. Acknowledge them in advance and apologise if necessary. Don’t sit there crossing your fingers that those stories will stay hidden. They won’t.
  5. 5 Be popular, rather than unnecessarily populist. Appealing to the masses will get ‘bums on seats’, for sure. But it won’t do much for your standing among key decision makers. Think of your reputation as well as your popularity.
  6. 6 Smear campaigns are nasty. Don’t do this. And if you find out that people are doing it on your behalf, stop them.
  7. 7 Don’t be proud. If you know someone who is more popular than you – and is on your side – that’s great! Associate yourself with that person – and don’t feel threatened by them.
  8. 8 Be firm, be assertive, but don’t shout! Hectoring your audience is off putting and detracts from your natural authority. It also makes you hoarse. Being assertive simply means getting your point across authentically in order to get your desired result.
  9. 9 If you’re going to debate with your competitors – arm yourself with facts as well as arguments. And if you don’t have time to dig out the facts, get someone to do it for you.
  10. 10 It’s fine to be animated and it’s fine to be passionate. But do not lose your temper in public. Ever.


Scott Solder is a business coach and communications consultant –