Zuckerberg testimony was a key moment for Facebook. The company was in the midst of a major scandal and the stock price was roiling.
The tech savvy eyes of the world where all pointed and ready to analyze every move of Zuckerberg testimony.
The Power Moves was no exception :).
Here’s what I noted down:
1. Great Intro
Zuckerberg testimony opening was the textbook way of handling mistakes.
It was composed of the following parts:
- Admits the mitakes
- Own it personally
- Outlines what he’s doing to fix it
- What he’s doing to prevent it from happening again
And the icing on the cake when he ended with:
The issues we’re here to talk about today aren’t just issues for Facebook and our community but they’re issues and challenges for all of us as Americans. Thank you for having me here and I’m ready to take your questions
Of course that was all prepared with communication specialist and PR consultants, but that’s not a fault.
Nodding when someone speaks to us is a sign that we are listening and we understand them. It also encourages people to speak longer and you should use it in 1:1 conversations (especially with women: studies show they appreciate more confirmation).
However, nodding when people are asking tough questions and outright criticizing can have different effects. Especially with cameras around.
Imagine you’re watching a video on Youtube. And you see Zuckerberg testimony hearing with a camera only on his face. In that case, you see Zuckerberg nodding while you listen to a critical voice. When that’s the case, you would subconsciously believe that Zuckerberg approves of the critics.
And that this misdeeds must be true.
Therefore even though it might be less warm, welcoming and polite, never nod in televised debates.
3. Kept Cool
“Make friends, not enemies”.
That was the only single good piece of advise that my mentor ever gave me.
And that’s what Zuckerberg did well.
The Facebook founder had the not so easy task of going into the testimony to face criticism, attacks and difficult questions. He had to avoid answering some of those questions, be pounded even more for for avoiding to answer and never hit back or escalate.
On top of that, a challenge he possibly didn’t expect was that of facing criticism mixed with plainly stupid questions.
It’s particularly difficult for men to face criticism while staying calm (Dr. Gottman), but he managed brilliantly.
Zuckerberg testimony never took a nasty turn and he even pulled punches when hitting would have been easy (except for a smug smile at the most stupid question).
Of course, there are some parts of the testimony Zuckerberg could have handled better.
I think too often he took the verbose, weaseling option instead of taking a stronger stand. That’s where the criticism of being like a robot partially stems from.
Too busy to police his own words, Zuckerberg testimony came across as controlled and unauthentic. Something that more passion and some stronger stances could have fixed.
A couple examples here:
Zuckerberg testimony was plagued by an issue that is very typical of the Facebook CEO: indecisiveness.
He often looks tentative, afraid of taking a stand or expressing an uncomfortable opinion. And then as soon as he realizes something is wrong, he looks nervous and panicky. And often backtracks.
Here are some examples:
Zuckerberg Testimony: Summary
Zuckerberg did a good job overall.
Poor preparation from the questioners -including embarrassing display of ignorance- greatly helped him too.
The media then focused mostly on the lawmakers’ ignorance, which removed lots of heat from the real questions of privacy, data usage and monopoly (what about Instagram and Whatsapp?).
A big win for Facebook, and a missed occasion for the rest of the world.
Kamala Harris being an exception in the positive.