Skeptical of the importance of personal anecdotes in speeches? Some Romney advisers disagree. A recent story in the Washington Post chronicles a debate among the candidate’s inner circle.
On one side are those who believe “[Romney’s] personal anecdotes got in the way of his economic message — that tales of altruism would appear frivolous amid an anemic economic recovery.” Here’s how chief strategist Stuart Stevens put it, “People care about what you’re going to do for them…Will you be a strong leader? Will you be someone who is going to help me get a job?”
On the other side are advisers who understand that voters want leaders they can relate to, as John F. Kerry and Al Gore learned the hard way. In fact, the Post notes, “in every election since 1992, the more dynamic and down-to-earth candidate has won.”
Personal anecdotes help every leader –in business as well as politics –connect with an audience. And audiences crave those connections.
Republican strategist Alex Castellanos calls it “the law of the car keys. ”
“Before I give you my car keys to take me somewhere,” he says, “I want to know where you promise to take me…but I also want to know: Can I trust you to take me there?”
I would add, audiences also often want to know, “would I enjoy the ride.”
As I posted earlier, I believe Romney can be an engaging speaker. Sharing anecdotes would help him (and leaders in other fields) inspire.