Theresa May’s LIVE TV Debate Debacle

I wasn’t at all surprised when Prime Minister Theresa May voted against the live TV debate before the snap General Election here in the UK.

As much am I LOVE that kind of live TV and enjoy what’s known as,  “showbiz for ugly people” if I was her I’d definitely refuse the podium on this occasion. 

Do you think the public deserved to see her argue her corner against the likes of “mugwump” Jeremy Corbyn?

Theresa Made The Right Decision & Here’s Why

From a ‘Personal Impact” point of view, having produced shows live on air at the BBC with Theresa May as a guest, here’s WHY I think it was a wise decision for her NOT to put herself near that kind of spotlight.  

Theresa May is not an exciting ‘off the cuff” show(wo)man, for example she’s the total opposite to Boris Johnson who thrives in the live unscripted TV environment.

I remember Boris turning up at the BBC studio on a ‘Boris Bike” and knocking over the camera equipment, roaring with laughter and encouraging the entire new gathering team to break into song when he had 30 secs to go until “ON AIR”. He’s literally Mr NO PREP – OFF The CUFF WING IT man.  

Theresa May on the other hand would walk into the live studio, dignified, serious, tall, elegant and “stiff”.  This was a few years ago and I am certain she’s lightened up, created more ‘personality’ and warmth in her new status as PM.   

But when I produced her LIVE on air, she was pretty frightening and point blank refused to comment on her leopard skin ‘Kitten Heels”.  At the time, I was producing Vanessa Feltz’s BBC radio show and Vanessa being Vanessa kept trying to make the interview more personality driven and engaging – but May literally got colder and colder and more condescending as the interview went on.  When the show was over the whole team looked at each other and giggled like a bunch of school kids who’s been sent to detention – talk about sense of humour by-pass!

This is why I find it fascinating to watch her now some 12 years later, a little more fashionable, a little more ‘smiley” – eyes and teeth Theresa, a huge amount of courage but still quite steely, focussed, robust and unflappable.  Oh yes, did I mention stable & secure?

Theresa May is an Introvert by nature, someone who thinks before she speaks (a quality I envy!).

When I am helping senior clients (many CEOs, and COOs from Global organisations) with their communication, speeches and Q&As at conferences in my experience the more senior, solid and ‘introvert’ the talent – the more brilliant at the formal performance.  They can prepare themselves, learn their script and they often have no problem with large intimidating audiences, however, they tend to struggle when it comes to the ‘un-vetted’ Q&A which requires ebb and flow, off-the-cuff remarks & flexibility.  

You can call them curved balls or whatever you like, but Theresa isn’t the type of person to relish the unknown.  

However …there is a downside to being perfectly prepared, stable and secure. 

The Danger of DULL!  

And Dull doesn’t make good TV.  Humour, entertainment and giving the audience what they want is NOT Theresa May’s strongest suit.   

The lesson?  Know and stick to your strengths.

If your strengths are stable and secure – then so be it.

I have some seriously brilliant tips for TM and how she can build on her personality - that could help her and help you too. 

Watch out for my next blog….it will be filled with TM-tips that could help her and you to engage with your audiences immediately.  The tips do require you to step outside your comfort zone – so brace yourself!

What do you think about Theresa May’s vote against the TV debate? And what advice would you give our PM to engage with her audience?  esther@estherstanhope.com 

Matthew Stroud