How Hillary Clinton won the debate without saying a word


Hillary won the last 3 debates in America the polls say. Off course the Donald will argue against that vehemently; but we all know by now that ‘the Donald lives in his own reality’ don’t we? So lets not spend precious time splitting hairs on this. Every thing that Hillary uttered was relevant, controlled and well research. She sounded very presidential with just the right amount of vulnerability and contrition where she seemed to go wrong with her emails. Enough to certainly give credence to Bernie’s ‘enough already!’ with the email brouhaha. I made it a point to watch almost all the debates twice and at the second time around, the audio on mute.

As a filmmaker, whenever I think through communicating a character, topmost of mind is ‘show, don’t tell’. This is called non-verbal communication. This means that when a character walks onto the screen, how they look and the way they carry themselves should tell you who they are, generally. As a director, I delight in tweaking the character’s non-verbal communication to contrast with the true character of the individual; this makes the soup tastier so to speak.

Generally, people make up their mind about who you are within seconds of meeting you. Before you have the time to even say hi. As a lecturer, I am always telling my students about the importance of ethos, pathos and logos in any communication setup. Basically, this translates into your credibility as the speaker, how you appeal to the emotions of the audience and if you go further to infuse adequate reasoning and facts into what you say. Putting all this together though, still doesn’t do the trick 100% and this is where Hillary got it right. I must be fair to the Donald by saying that as a man, there were some things that were simply out of his control. I mean, as a man seeking to be president for instance, how many color variations can you throw together? This is not the “Apprentice” after all.  That not withstanding, there were still many areas that Donald Trump dropped the ball and below we will go into some of those areas and explore what other things we can take from the United States presidential debates, either than the drama that surrounded the three event.

Red is a powerful color. It communicates confidence, passion, control, love, and warmth. It demands attention and increases the heart rate, the doctor may say. During the first debate, it was critical that Hillary showed that ‘despite being a woman’ (sad that this holds true in 2016, but it does), she is powerful and controlled enough to take America where it needs to go. It was therefore not at all surprising to me when she walked onto the stage spotting the power color.

Blue and its variations communicate trust, loyalty, security, productivity and relaxation. After showing her power with the first punch, Hilary no longer needed to flog the point. With a tinge of white, the focus was on acceptance. Wanting the world to feel comfortable enough to accept a woman as the most important person for the next four years.  The goal was to get us to relax and accept that she is good enough for the job, unlike her opponent.

In my opinion, Hillary sealed the deal with the final debate when she mounted the stage in all white attire. White is the color for clarity. Wasn’t it by now clear that Hillary should be the choice, especially after all that had happened with the allegations pouring onto the opponent? Her choice design was unbroken. I nearly burst out laughing when Hillary walked onto the stage. Donald was no way ready for what was coming.


Look at the extra calmness with which she handled the last debate, whiles her opponent continued to make faces and interrupt her, even though all effort had been made to have him behave more controlled. She looked clean; making it seem even the more odd when Donald uttered the words that would grab the headlines and hunt him ‘nasty woman’.  As expected, the nastiness failed to stick to the white.

Whiles Hillary made it a point to stand straight and blink less, all the time doing her best to smile when attacked, in contrast, Donald kept on touching his microphone, bending down to speak into it unnecessarily, making him look weak. Sniffing and contorting his face, whiles sipping water like a tired house, as he accused his opponent of lacking stamina. Yes, puppet indeed! At an event from Thursday, which both Hillary and Donald attended, again Hillary spotted her REDDISH Pink and during a joking session, drew a comparison between Donald the ‘strong horse’ and the horse that President Putin rides. May I say that once again, Donald clearly missed the memo? Hillary’s self deprecating comment of ‘taking a break from her nap to be at the event’ off course under layered with her recent fresh look and the ‘I am in charge’ look of her attire and carriage… boy I want to become friends with her communication team!

During the debates, Hillary kept her torso turned away from Donald and if she had to look at him, she would barely turn her head, remaining regal at all times. All together saying, I dismiss this man. He can’t touch me; Look at me, I am your president.

As someone who spends a lot of time communicating one way or the other, the world just witnessed a master hand at play. Whether this and others lead Hillary to a victory or not, I cannot help but stop and admire the work that went into her debate prep.

It pays to practice. Practice doesn’t mean lack of confidence. Mostly we swing in and out of situations without a thought given to how we are perceived. The next time you are given any leadership position, whether it is to lead a crowd or just one more person either than yourself, why don’t you pause to consider if what you are saying doesn’t contrast other things that you are communicating. As a filmmaker, achieving that contrast with the characters that I build is the ultimate in good writing, however in real life, not so much. In my book, Leadership is communication…



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