Can Bill use his Midas touch for Hillary?
Hillary, Haribo or hemp seed, Bill Clinton could sell anything. This is how he does it.
In 1992, a group of advisors got together. They were in a bit of a bind. Their guy was in third place and becoming a joke. Their solution? The Manhattan Project. Note, this Manhattan project has nothing to do with building bombs.
The strength of vulnerability
Back then presidential nominees didn’t do vulnerable on the talk show circuit, however, they put their guy on the shows and he started opening up, about being raised by his grandparents and then later by his mother and abusive, alcoholic step-father and how he overcame these challenges. It worked and being vulnerable let him connect with people.
Within a month the polls showed a staggering result. Their guy had rocketed from 33% approval rating to 77% rating. That guy went on to serve two terms as the 42nd US president. That guy is Bill Clinton.
Now he’s connecting with an American audience to campaign for his wife‘s presidential bid. Can he raise her popularity just as he did his own 34 years ago?
Here’s how he created magic in his speech at the Democratic National Conference this week.
We all love a good story and Bill Clinton’s speech at the DNC this week was full of stories. His opening lines sounded like the introduction to a film or a novel “In the spring of 1971, I met a girl…”
Importantly, he first shared some tales that made him vulnerable which helped him connect with the audience. He shared how he could only stare at this girl (Hillary) he kept coming across at college and just couldn’t pluck up the courage to talk to her. Then years after they had started dating he had to ask her 3 times before she said yes to marrying him. This sharing paved the way for him to bring the Hillary he knows into the picture and for his listeners to warm to this.
His Hillary stories weaved back and forth between two themes: Hillary, the regular person, making her easier to relate to, and Hillary the supremely qualified public servant with an extensive record of achievement, championing her suitability for the presidency.
It’s all in the details
Another great public speaking tip Bill Clinton used? His speech was rich in personal little details, a terrific trick of storytelling to connect with people and give them hooks to hang things on to remember key points.
We learned the Clinton’s mortgage payments on their first house was $175 a month, that Hillary’s waters broke 15 minutes after Bill had returned from a conference in Washington and how he’d taken two days off to watch all 6 Police Academy movies with their daughter, Chelsea.
One of the most human tales he told involved a story many can relate to: a child leaving the nest. Bill Clinton described how he’d stood in Chelsea’s new room on her first day at Stanford, staring out of the window in a slight daze whilst Hillary busied herself trying to find one more drawer to line with paper, before their teenage daughter gently told them it was time to leave.
All of these are personal stories that are more likely to be shared over a dinner between good friends rather than a world leader who’d access to the nuclear codes for 8 years addressing thousands at a convention. However, the effect is that the audience felt they got to know Hillary more as a person, rather than a public figure. It humanised her.
This, along with Bill Clinton’s conversational tone created a rapt audience who’d been given front row seats for the Bill and Hillary Story.
The result? A rich and compelling narrative. Much more a sweeping tale that you’d see at the movies, than a dry list of political statistics. And a glimpse into the lives of one of the most famous political couples of this generation that could make all the difference come November 8th.