How To Work A Room Like Joe Biden
January 12, 2013 4 Comments
One area this blog explores is the subtle things successful people do differently than the rest. (When I speak of success, I mean achievement in any field, and by any measure — doesn’t just mean financial success.)
Have you ever watched a politician or high-power executive work a room, and wonder what these “successful” people say (or do) differently than you?
A case-study is Joe Biden, who many say is extremely personable, and great at making people quickly feel comfortable. I can’t comment from personal experience what methods he uses to accomplish this, but I came across a video of Joe working the room at last week’s Senate swearing in ceremony, which gives some insight into his tactics. (By the way, I’m equally interested in how Reagan worked a room, so please don’t read anything into the subject of this commentary.)
Here are a few things I notice about how he works a room:
1. Simple and direct greeting: With a smile, eye contact, and handshake, his opening line seems to be “Hey [name], I’m Joe Biden.“
Take-away: Joe smiles a lot, especially during his greeting. Perhaps this is why people feel at ease.
2. Plenty of compliments: Joe seems to alternate and riff on a few standard lines, including:
- “You’ve got a million dollar smile ” (which he seems to apply to both men and women)
- “You’ve got a smile that lights up the room” (or in one variation he says “the chamber”)
- “You’ve got beautiful eyes” (I’d probably feel awkward saying this to a dude)
- “As they say in southern Delaware, you’ve done good …”
- “Other than my mother, this is the finest lady I’ve ever known.” (that’s a good one!)
- “You married up son!”
While many of these lines are applied to both men and women, he seems particularly sensitive towards older moms (however, that may be a result of how the clip was edited).
Take-away: The number of compliments he gives is significantly higher than what I feel comfortable doing, so this may be one reason he’s known for the way he works a room.
3. Physical approach: He definitely makes a lot of physical contact. He touches, moves into people’s personal space, and doesn’t seem awkward in doing so. He makes it a point of stating that he wants certain people next to him.
Take-away: He seems extremely physical; what strikes me is that he interacts with people as if they’re close family members, not strangers.
Watch the video (2:36). What do you think about how Joe works a room? Is he creepy, or just confident?