Kaieteur News – The art of effective communication is crucial for any political leader, and perhaps none more so than the President of a nation. Presidential press conferences serve as a vital platform for conveying important information, addressing concerns, and setting the tone for the government’s agenda.
However, it appears that the President of Guyana has not learned from past mistakes in handling these press conferences. Despite ample opportunities to improve and engage with the media and the public, the President continues to miss the mark, leaving the public to wonder whether he is receiving proper advice or simply not heeding it. One glaring mistake in the President’s press conferences is his penchant for long-winded opening statements, often centered on the economy. While discussing economic matters is undoubtedly important, there is a time and place for such discussions.
The President’s marathon opening statements have repeatedly failed to capture the interest of the reporters and the public. In fact, the questions the media asked in both of the President’s last two press conferences had little to do with his economic analyses. Earlier this year, the President’s opening statement also focused extensively on the economy, attempting to establish improvements in various sectors over that of the former government. However, this effort was marred when Stabroek News fact-checked the numbers presented about the country’s mortality rates and found them to be creative, highlighting the use of partial numbers that did not correspond to annual figures. This revelation not only damaged the President’s credibility but also undermined his claims of improvements in the health sector.
One would have expected the President to learn from this previous debacle, adapting his approach to better engage with the media and the public. Unfortunately, history repeated itself at his most recent press conference, held just last Saturday. Once again, the President delved into a lengthy analysis of the economy in his opening statement, only to be met with indifference from reporters. This raises a fundamental question: Is the President not being advised properly, or is he simply disregarding the advice he receives? One might argue that the President should have taken the opportunity to address the concerns and questions of the media directly instead of rehashing an economic analysis on issues that had already been in the public domain for over a month.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of these press conferences is the missed opportunities to address pressing and topical issues and the tendency to announce promises. During last Saturday’s press conference, the media’s attention was not on the President’s economic analysis but rather on announcements he made. One such announcement was the President’s promise to personally deal with the teachers’ issues upon his return to Guyana. While it is commendable for a leader to show concern for educational matters, one has to question why the President himself needs to be involved. Education and labour issues should ideally be handled by the relevant ministers and departments, with the President’s role being to provide oversight and guidance. One Minister has already said that she has nothing to do with the negotiations for improved wages and benefits for teachers.
Another announcement that raised eyebrows was the President’s promise to increase the national minimum wage and the income tax threshold. While this is undoubtedly an important policy decision, it would have been more prudent for the President to wait until the increase had been determined before making such an announcement. Premature promises can create false expectations and undermine the government’s credibility. Already people are talking about the minimum wage being increased to G$150,000 per month, an unrealistic figure.
A President’s press conference should be carefully hosted to address critical issues, making major announcements, or discussing topical developments. It should not be a platform for repetitive and lengthy economic analyses, especially when the public is already well-informed on the subject.
The President’s press conferences provide him with opportunities for him to connect with the media and the public, convey important information, and address concerns. However, his repeated mistakes, including long-winded opening statements and commitments to do things promises raise questions about the effectiveness of his communication strategy.
It is crucial for the President to learn from these mistakes and make the necessary adjustments. Whether it is a matter of seeking better advice or heeding the advice he receives, the President must prioritize engaging with the media and the public effectively. This includes focusing on pertinent issues, making meaningful announcements, and avoiding the pitfalls of past press conferences.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of this newspaper and its affiliates.)
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