On Being Spontaneous: Why Romney’s Palestinian Remark Failed

On Monday during a speech in Israel, Mitt Romney was doing just fine until he went off-script.

The result: a sour finish to an otherwise successful trip to the Middle East.

On the flipside, the Republican presidential candidate did provide us with a lesson in preparation.

Today’s ‘News To Live By’: be casual but be careful.

Yesterday in a nutshell:

At a breakfast fundraiser, Romney claimed the wealth disparity between Israelis and Palestinians has to do with differences in ‘culture.’

Palestinian officials pounced on Romney for the ‘cultural’ remark and cited a host of political reasons why their community lags behind Israel.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post will not analyze who is right and wrong in the Middle East. There are roughly 1,297 other editorials on the Web today on that very subject.

No, the focus here is Romney. He could have avoided this entire dust-up by prepping his off-the-cuff remarks.

That’s right, planning to be spontaneous.

Nowadays, the fear of ‘gotcha’ moments make politicians and other public figures afraid to stray from a prepared speech. But then we never feel like we know the ‘true’ person. It’s great when a speaker talks casually with the audience but even being impromptu requires prep time.

Think about when you are asked to give a presentation on the job.

You don’t want to come across stilted and boring just reading from a script. It can be powerful to look up from your notes and connect with the audience on a more personal level.

But at any company, there are sore subjects that will make the crowd either uncomfortable or angry. It’s always a good idea to run a speech by people you trust and say ‘how do you think this line will go over’?

Audiences like being spoken to off-the-cuff; it makes them feel like you’re willing to open up and ‘level’ with them.

Yet to do that effectively, you have to know what NOT to say.

In Israel, Romney needed to prepare to talk off the top of his head.

Sounds tricky, but that’s just the age in which we live.

Do you agree? Should speakers ‘plan to be spontaneous’? Or are some speeches too risky to take any chances at all?

Comment below!


comments powered by Disqus