Small gesture, big effect: that’s how Kamala Harris kept MASTERSTATUS and EYELEVEL during the American VP debate
30 seconds. 30 seconds only. That was all it took for Kamala Harris to show during the debate of the candidates for the American Vice Presidency, how you – under pressure (and such a debate is putting you under pressure for sure) show attitude and impact in communication.
1) Staying constantly and consistently in MASTER STATUS: At no time does she convey the feeling of wanting to belittle or diss the incumbent VP. Without ever making herself smaller. Not a single “sorry”. What’s the point, if there is nothing to apologize for? We should all make that our daily task: apologize only when there is something to apologize for. NONE OTHERWISE.
2) Her whole attitude says: I am FOR something, not AGAINST something. This says a lot about their basic paradigms: She does not want to look back, but to work forward. Focussing her attention on what is to come, not on yesterday’s news. Ladies, make it clear what your communication is all about; in every mail, every conversation, every zoom call. And also in every presidential debate (you never know (:-).
3) Harris masters the triad: TIMING. TEMPO. MOMENTUM. Don’t talk too soon. Not too fast. And then consistently make the point. Harris sets her pauses with virtuosity. Even between two words as small as “Mr. Vice President” and “I’m speaking”. Keeping the overview, but without appearing like a control freak. Friendly and clear announcements are not mutually exclusive. Don’t be offended if you don’t get a word in edgewise, but focus on what is to be said (eyes on the prize!).
4) Harris uses the trustworthy voice pattern very specifically: The voice lowers at the end of the sentence or thought. No unpleasantly nervous or panicky voice raising, that is not perceived as credible by either men or women.
5) The vertically placed palm (a symbol of the Vedic goddess Kali) means “No fear”: Be without fear, but respect the limits. This gesture (often taught in association with the word “stop” in women’s self-defense courses) is shown to her opponent at the very moment when he has repeatedly interrupted her. Harris does not need the teacher’s index finger to be communicative impactful. And with this sovereignty she has not only Kali, but all the Vedic gods behind her.
My very personal “thumbs up” gets the incumbent Californian governor for two additional aspects: first her malicious smile: honestly determined and with the remaining female kindness even the worst opponent deserves. Second: her precise body language: back and head straight. Also (or perhaps especially ) while sitting. Precise gestures, without gesturing.
I wish us all at least one “Kamala-Harris” moment every day: As friendly as possible, as strict and consistent as necessary. In the video call with the board colleagues, the team. Or with your Sweetheart.
Here is the video to watch, learn and enjoy
The author is a communications trainer and media coach in a pan-European environment and enjoys great performances by great women in the media. She is happy when you report about your “Kamala” moments. You can find her communication trainings here:
fotocredits: U.S. Senate Photographic Studio – Renee Bouchard