John Boehner’s Tan

This past Sunday, House Minority Leader John Boehner was a guest on NBC’s Meet the Press.

He made some news on the program, saying it was “worth considering” changing the section of the 14th Amendment that guarantees citizenship to all persons born in the United States.

But many people didn’t hear his words. They were distracted by what could only be described as Rep. Boehner’s “Oompa Loompa” orange hue.

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe the next morning, the hosts mercilessly mocked Mr. Boehner – but also made an important point about distracting the audience.

I know an article about Rep. Boehner’s tan may seem superficial, but it underscores a vital truth about communications: Audiences take more meaning from a spokesperson’s vocal tone and body language than they do from words alone.

That doesn’t mean words don’t matter – they do. But if the audience is distracted by something in an interview – whether it’s a monotone delivery, a few dozen “uhhhs” or “ummms,” or an overly-tanned face – they are not going to hear what you have to say.

Related: Do you know the seven winning traits every successful presidential candidate has had since the beginning of the 24/7 media age in 1980? Click here to see our 2012 election series.