Tonight, the leaders of seven political parties will take part in a live debate, prior to the impending general election.

I have just come off air as the psychology expert guest on Bloomberg’s The Pulse, along with YouGov’s Senior Researcher, Tanya Abraham. We spent a little time discussing this debate, and the impact it will have on public opinion.

So tonight, the way in which the political party leaders present themselves is everything; in their body language, communication style and emotional control.

Within the line-up, we have the two mainstream parties, Conservative and Labour, as well as the Lib Dems, SNP, UKIP, Greens and Plaid Cymru.

Along with Guy Johnson and Francine Lacqua, the anchors of The Pulse, we discussed some of the issues they will face, and what they need to consider in winning the hearts and minds of the nation.

From a psychological viewpoint, there is much they can do and they key areas are as follows:

Being authentic

This has a large part to play in overall charisma; charisma being the charm, appeal and magnetism that draws people in.

Being authentic to who they are is vital. We have seen instances of late where Ed Milliband seems to be conforming to a blue print that tells him he needs to be a ‘tough man’. It’s out of character and overdone, and the UK public will see through this.

Planning and preparation

Being unprepared will put the leaders at a severe disadvantage and make them psychologically unfit for the debate. The influence and impact they wish to have calls for careful planning and preparation.

We recently heard Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, stumble through her interview showing her lack of knowledge in per party’s policies. This is highly embarrassing and she is sure to be wishing to put that right tonight.

Knowing their voters

The party leaders need to understand their voters. Their hopes, dreams, fears and needs. They will need to be relay their vision for addressing these, with their target voters in mind.

Staying anchored

We’ve seen far too many debates where the leaders are dragged backward and forward into petty quarrels, and each being attacked from different directions from their opponents.

Ed Milliband’s interview last week showed him to be defensive and rattled, and that will do him no favours.

It is important that the political party leaders remain grounded. To focus on their breathing, control emotions and even more importantly, stay centred on the key points they wish to get across within the debate.

This is no longer a two-horse race

With trust being a key issue for the mainstream political parties, it’s a real opportunity for some of the side-line parties to make an impact.

As Tanya rightly pointed out on this morning’s show, the image of the leaders is everything. That is who the UK population are buying into.

So many individuals do not get caught up in the detail of policy. For them, it’s gut feel based on the media coverage and how the leaders portray themselves.

This is a brand new format for political debates and how this pans out will be very interesting indeed.

  • Will Clegg Mania strike again?
  • How many times will Cameron thumb point?
  • Will Natalie Bennett know her stuff?
  • Will Ed Milliband say ‘hell yeah!” 

Let’s wait and see…