After months of ducking the media over charges of marital infidelity, Tiger Woods finally met the press by delivering a thirteen-and-a-half minute apologetic statement to a hand-picked audience, and he did not take questions. That did not stop the media from picking over the event like the leftover carcass of a Thanksgiving turkey. The commentary ranged from the sarcastic (London's Telegraph commented: "Tiger Woods had bought a new shirt. But, rather like a schoolboy on his first day of term, it appeared to be at least one collar size too large") to the sincere, as Alessandra Stanley, the television critic for the New York Times reported:
On the Golf Channel, the analyst Charlie Rymer, a former PGA player, choked up. "We saw a genuine and authentic Tiger Woods," Rymer said. His own eyes teared up when he described how "painful" it must have been for Woods.
Ms. Stanley, herself, approved of Mr. Woods' candor:
If Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina had delivered Tiger Woods's ironclad apology instead of a lovelorn cri de coeur about his Argentine love nest, his soon-to-be-ex-wife, Jenny, might not have published a book about her marital woes. If John Edwards had been as truthful and forthcoming about his personal misdeeds, he might not be as much of a pariah as he remains even after expiating for his sins in Haiti.
The Wall Street Journal also gathered comments from experts in the field of "crisis management," in particular that of Michael Sitrick, the Chairman and CEO of Sitrick and Company, whose firm has recently taken on the challenge of representing Toyota. Mr. Sitrick said of Mr. Woods' delivery, "I would have done it with a teleprompter."
Mr. Sitrick is spot on. Instead of a teleprompter, Mr. Woods chose to read his statement from written text placed on a lectern in front of him. This choice diminished the effectiveness of his delivery, as it would for any presenter who reads from either text or notes on a lectern.
To access his text, Mr. Woods repeatedly looked down, causing what are known as "nosedives." Each time he cast his eyes downward, he broke eye contact; the vital expression of sincerity; and each time he bent his head, his voice dropped, making his words sound weak.
In sharp contrast is the moment (at 3:35 in the YouTube video) when he looks up and straight out to the audience, the camera, and the world to say, "For what I have done, I am sorry." For the first time, the only time in an otherwise flat, stiff reading, the moment resonates.
The teleprompter, for all the commentary it has elicited, (including mine,) would have allowed Mr. Woods to deliver his carefully-crafted statement to the world with full voice and a sincere look in his eyes.
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