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Ten tips for Cameron ahead of the election debates

A good friend who works for a political communications company in Washington DC coaches largely US Republican candidates for debates. His clients will be well known to most ConHome readers. He spent a couple of hours going through the David Cameron video category on PlayPolitical and sent me an email about the things that Cameron should do and not do, during the looming debates. I republish the email below. It is directed at David Cameron.

You are a good communicator. One of the best I've ever seen. You will do well in these debates by being natural, by being yourself. Don't try to engineer a special performance for the debate.

Go into the debate thinking about one result for yourself, one result for Brown and one result for Clegg. For yourself it should be to look statesmanlike rather than to be liked. People aren't voting for a good neighbour but for a leader. So avoid any cheap attacks. For Brown the line is you don't deserve a fourth chance. For Clegg it should be you are Brown's best hope of staying in power.

Pay tribute to opponents' successes. Don't attack all the time. Attacks will be more effective if they are seasoned.

Look interested in the views of Clegg and Brown. Look at your opponents when they are speaking. Minimize looking down at the lecturn and never look at your watch.

Keep within time limits. Running over time limits more than once is resented by viewers and makes you look undisciplined.

CameronTongueOutAvoid the 'lizard tongue'. It's ugly and suggests nerves.

You do not have a strong laugh so smile when something is funny. You have a good smile.

Jokes at your own expense are the best. People like people who don't take themselves too seriously.

Be ready to admit a mistake. It's the obvious question to prepare for.

And the best advice I can give you: Don't over do the facts. Use two or three strong stories. People remember stories but forget stats.

There ends the substance of the email.

Tim Montgomerie


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