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Cameron’s triumphant performance

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The UK enthusiastically welcomed the American-style televised leader’s debates with seven-million of us tuning in to see the seven major contenders represented on stage. Some thought that the presence of women added a human, authentic, touch - perhaps even a ‘moral’ element. Others felt it was tokenism for the smaller parties and merely done to increase the quota of women on stage. Either way, the strongest performers in that seven-way debate, Sturgeon and Cameron, both having physical and vocal presence, came out winners post-ballot. Our previous post looked at Nicola Sturgeon, here we look at Cameron’s performance in the final debate.

Looking back at Milliband’s performance now, his awkward stance and inability to show up as truly genuine was an early warning sign for labour. It reveals, perhaps, a deep lack of self-belief and clarity of purpose - a rocky foundation for a party who’s campaign has been a struggle. Interesting how these behaviours reflect an inherent lack of clear agenda for social change - and thus an unsuccessful challenge to a Tory majority. Clegg played the nice guy, and his message was one of quiet resignation; there was little fire in his belly and little to differentiate him from Cameron. It's no surprise to see them both resign before midday.

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Well, the results are in – so how do they reflect the women’s pre-election performances? With the largest representation yet of senior-level women in the pre-election campaigning, and not without their gaffs (Labour’s pink van-gate anyone?) did the women leaders get heard is the real question. Certainly the increase in female MPS, currently at 190 from a pre-election figure of 147, would indicate so, at least superficially.

In politics, as in business, the media is hung up on female quotas but the fact is that simply being present is not the same as having presence. With the SNP’s resounding and historic result in Scotland, it seems very clear that Nicola Sturgeon was a woman both seen and heard.

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When we are stressed our natural response is to hold the breath. Our tendency is to lift the chest and reduce the length of our exhalation. This raises our heart rate and can make us appear lacking in confidence, unapproachable and sometimes aggressive. We either play small and take up less space - or we do the opposite, puffing the chest and chin out. Neither is optimal!

Have you ever noticed that you hold your breath in any of these situations.

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Historically few women have occupied the most senior roles in business but things are changing rapidly. By 2015 the Government recommendation is that 25% of FTSE 100 boardroom places be held by women.

Research also shows that diverse boards make better decisions and are more effective as well as promoting equal opportunities for talented women.

Did you know that ...

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Hands Up and Go For Gold!

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Every time I give a Presentation Skills Workshop the same questions crop up:
"What do I do with my hands?"
"I feel so self-conscious standing in front of people."
"I've been told to stay still and not to use gesture."
"I can't talk without using my hands!"

Well I'm not surprised. There's no way you can talk credibly and passionately without using your hands. Try describing how Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins crossed the winning line and won gold for GB in rowing, or how Mo Farah out-paced the field in athletics and how Tom Daley, despite an emotionally searing year, won bronze for diving, without using your hands. Go on, try it right now. It's not impossible but without gesture your account is likely to be as dull as ditchwater.

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