Show and Tell

I’m not one of those who considered Ronald Reagan “The Great Communicator” or even a great communicator. He was a good communicator, certainly, but no more so than I would expect from a successful politician and actor.

His speech in the aftermath of the Challenger disaster was especially moving. He could deliver a well-timed one-liner, often at his opponents’ expense. And he revived the now-common practice of inviting guests to the State of the Union and using their stories to great effect.

One thing he did especially well was his use of visuals: A chart or graph or, as I talk about in the video here, a simple prop.

I often wonder why other presidents, and top executives for that matter, don’t use props and visuals more. I suppose it might be seen by some as beneath the office, but I’d love to see Obama break out a pie chart once in a while to show, say, exactly how small a slice of the budget we’re talking about when discussing discretionary spending cuts.

I’m not suggesting he fire up a full-on PowerPoint presentation or anything, but just a little something. A little show-and-tell.

As Robert McKee said in Story, widely regarded as the bible for screenwriters: “Image is our first choice, dialogue the regretful second choice.”