Mourners might not remember John McCain primarily as a communicator.
He was a loyal public servant, the 2008 Republican nominee for president, a six-term senator for Arizona, a fighter pilot who spent more than five years as a POW in North Vietnam, and a “maverick” of American politics.
He wasn’t a renowned orator like Presidents John Kennedy and Barack Obama, nor friendly and folksy, like Presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.
His was the laconic speech of warriors, a prickly delivery that could be humorous and biting—and highly effective.
Here are some lessons for communicators from a singular American leader:
1. Show respect for your opponents.
McCain was careful to avoid the more toxic rhetoric surrounding Obama, his Democratic opponent in the 2008 presidential campaign. McCain famously rebuffed a woman at a town hall event when she called the democratic hopeful an “Arab” and described him as untrustworthy.