MSNBC’s “Map Guy” Fills the Screen with Energy


Who was the most interesting presenter to come out of Super Tuesday?

We were fascinated by the guy wearing a rumpled white shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He talked fast—sometimes too fast—and usually had a clipboard or some rolled up notes in one of his hands. He used a big visual aid but often turned his head and spoke to it, a big no-no for most speakers.

Steve Kornacki, a political analyst and renowned “map guy” for MSNBC, provided an engaging, energetic and animated presence during the network’s election night coverage. He stood in front of a giant interactive TV screen, almost frantically touching map images to call up vote totals and using his finger to write notes in different colors over the maps.

First, we were impressed by Kornacki’s ability to distill a massive amount of information—voter trends, polling data, rapidly-changing vote totals—into more easily understood news for his audiences to digest. At one point, he quickly estimated the total delegate counts in all the southern states, calculated (in his head) that Vice President Biden would net approximately 130 delegates (a number he scribbled on the screen) by winning those states, and predicted that the lead Biden had built would carry him to a delegate lead throughout the rest of the night’s primary returns.

As of Ordinary Thursday, with final delegate counts still rolling in, Mr. Kornacki seems to have accurately called the final results. He passed the credibility test with flying colors.

We were also impressed by the way he engaged viewers. Newsrooms tend to feature relatively stiff talking heads in well-pressed dress clothes who read off notes and teleprompters while most of their bodies are off-camera. Kornacki, on the other hand, seemed to be in the middle of a cardio workout. He twisted his body back and forth, looking from the map to the camera and back again, all while furiously pumping his arms, moving his head, stepping toward the camera, raising and lowering his voice, and barely pausing to take a breath. No wonder you can see the wrinkles in his shirt.

Kornacki did exhibit many tendencies that we coach our clients to avoid: he often looked away from his audience; he talked too fast; he held a clipboard in his hands; he didn’t pause so we could catch up to him; he used the same gestures over and over. But as we say at EMS Communications: energy is the great mask, helping to cover up many of the issues that keep speakers from connecting with their audiences.

If you’re a speaker who has to present a lot of data or analytical material, there’s much to learn from the excitement that comes through when Kornacki delivers his on-camera analysis. By delivering his content with that level of passion and energy, he demonstrates that he’s totally into his job.

Imagine what would happen if YOU brought that level of energy, excitement and passion to your next presentation! Let us know how we can help!

Check out Steve Kornacki by clicking here

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