Avoid Bernie Sanders’ public speaking mistake

You’ve got a rousing speech, guaranteed to raise cheers? Don’t be too sure of that. Consider what happened to Bernie Sanders in South Carolina recently.

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Bernie Sanders recently spoke to a predominantly African-American audience in the dining room of a South Carolina church. According to this account, the response from the mealtime crowd was tepid: polite clapping for all but a couple of lines.

We’re used to reading about packed stadiums roaring their approval for Mr. Sanders’ stump speech. So where did this one go off the rails?

It’s hard to judge from a single news story, but this sounds an awful lot like a rally speech delivered to a decidedly non-rally crowd.

There’s a big difference between a crowd that assembles to hear you speak, and a crowd assembled for a completely different reason, where you happen to be a guest.

The first audience is motivated: they’re here just to hear you. If they’re anything like the people at Mr. Sanders’ rallies, they either support you already, or they’re eagerly waiting to be persuaded.

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