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Page last updated at 11:00 GMT, Friday, 16 April 2010 12:00 UK
Analysis of TV debate by Berkshire branding expert
By Emma Midgley
BBC Berkshire reporter

Prime ministerial debate: Nick Clegg, David Cameron and Gordon Brown
Nick Clegg, David Cameron and Gordon Brown making history in TV debate

Bracknell branding consultant Leslie Everett is an expert about how party leaders use body language to convey their message.

Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems each claim their leader won the televised leaders debate, which was watched by about 9.4m people.

But two polls carried out after the event suggest the Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg most impressed viewers.

So what was Leslie's impression of how the leaders perfomed?

"I agree with the polls actually," she said.

"Very early on Nick Clegg just engaged with the audience, he looked more relaxed.

"I think Cameron was more nervous than I expected him to be, and then he became quite direct and not so personable.

"Gordon Brown also looked very uncomfortable I think most of the way through and certainly at the beginning. "

FIRST DEBATE

Ms Everett said that on first impressions, which were "very important" to viewers, Clegg came across as more "relaxed and personable".

She said: "Even though we all know the three leaders there reasonably well, last night was still a great opportunity to create a positive first impression.

"We make an impression on people very quickly - within seconds.

"The body language and the way they spoke and the way they engaged, with their eye contact, with the audience, that came across in seconds."

Ms Everett said that although Clegg's trick of using specific names of the people who asked the questions in the audience could be called "impressive", that she thought it was a "little bit cheesy".

"Relaxed"

Differences in body language between the three leaders also spoke volumes to viewers, according to Ms Everett.

She said that by half way through the debate, Clegg was no longer holding onto the podium.

"He actually had his hand in his pocket, at one stage, and he just looked relaxed, he looked like he was having a conversation.

"He just looked like he was building a rapport with the audience much more than the other two," she said.

"Particularly Gordon Brown who was holding on to the podium for dear life at one stage with both hands."

SNAP POLLS ON THE DEBATE
ITV: Clegg 43%, Cameron 26%, Brown 20%
YouGov/The Sun: Clegg 51%, Cameron 29%, Brown 19%
Channel Four: Clegg 58%, Brown 28%, Cameron 13%
Sky News: Clegg 37%, Brown 32%, Cameron 31%

Ms Everett conceded that there was more to being Prime Minister than performing well on television, but said in the modern media age, presentation and "branding" was vitally important."

"It's not just a matter of having the right substance and the right manifestos, we've got to make sure we feel like people mean them as well," she said.

"I think Cameron at one stage, he came across as a little bit insincere.

"It was just too polished and too direct, and we didn't really feel like we meant some of this stuff.

"I think the image they project with it, the brand image that comes across really does help us to feel the credibility or not."

Ms Everett said that she expected future debates to feature banter between leaders, and an effort by all three to appear more "relaxed."




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