Whenever your objective is to persuade, you must be prepared for the KILLER THREE- three critical questions or objections that you must answer expertly. Failure to do so may derail your entire presentation.
Last night’s tension filled U.S. Presidential debate had numerous Killer Questions, most of which were handled deftly by both debaters. However, Governor Mitt Romney missed two golden opportunities to win undecided voters and potentially change the course of the election.
It was the last and perhaps most important question of the evening that provided one opportunity:
“What do you believe is the biggest misperception that the American people have about you as a man and a candidate? Using specific examples, can you take this opportunity to debunk that misperception and set us straight?”
In answering first, Romney said that he cared about one hundred percent of the American people and that he wanted them to have a bright and prosperous future. However, he quickly returned to his five point plan.
President Barak Obama, on the other hand, took the tact of confirming the perceptions that people have of Romney. He pointed out that Romney had said just two weeks earlier in a private meeting that 47% of the U.S. population is living off of the government.
This is a Killer Question which Romney and his advisors should have nailed. Had Romney preemptively mentioned the 47% issue and explained that he is dedicated to ending the dependence on government aid by increasing incomes, Obama would not have been able to use the issue against him.
In the movie 8 Mile, the young rap star Rabbit, played by Eminem, was faced with a similar opportunity in a rap tournament. In the last of three rounds, Rabbit is pitted against Papa Doc, the tournament’s most feared battler and Rabbit’s antagonist throughout the film. Rabbit is aware that Doc knows all his weak points so he decides to address them proactively when he is the first one to rap.
Rabbit acknowledges without shame his impoverished roots and the various humiliations Papa Doc’s gang have inflicted on him, and then uses the difficult life he’s had as a springboard to reveal the truth about Papa Doc. Doc ends up choking when it’s his turn to rap and Rabbit wins the tournament. Rabbit was prepared for the Killer Three.
Another missed opportunity came when Candy Crowley asked President Obama if the buck stops with the secretary of state regarding the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi. Obama said that he is responsible and that he will hunt down those who committed the crime.
Instead of answering the question, Romney argued that Obama didn’t term the event a “terrorist attack” until two weeks later. The interchange concluded poorly for Romney with Candy Crowley siding with Obama.
This was a perfect opportunity for Romney to say something like, “The buck absolutely stops with the President. For the President not to protect our embassy, located in a hotbed of terrorism on the anniversary of the most devastating terrorist attack in our country, is unpardonable.”
Although both candidates battled well, I grade Romney lower for his failure to dominate on Killer Questions:
Obama – A
Romney – B
Unlike the candidates, I welcome fact checking. You’ll find more information about The Killer Three in my book The Power of the Pitch: Transform Yourself into a Persuasive Presenter and Win More Business.
That’s how I see it. How do you grade the candidates?