Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2150:
Body Language Advice for
President Obama and Governor Romney in Tonight's Debate

By all accounts, even his adversary, President Obama is a great speaker. Why didn't this translate into success in his first debate two weeks ago? The answer is multifaceted - but a good bit of it comes down to bad body language. In tonight's debate - in a town-hall format - Mr. Obama's and Mr. Romney's nonverbals will we even more important. 

What many don't realize, is that the not only does your body language indicate your emotional mindset, but adopting, maintaining, and/or changing in nuanced context also changes your emotions, the fluidity by which you speak (or stutter) and will even affect your word choice.

Here are dozen body language debate pointers for both Presidential Candidates (for the complete list - contact my agent).

1. Stand with your feet about a shoulder's width apart. There's not a photo in existence of John Wayne standing with his feet together. This stance projects, builds and maintains confidence.

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 337: Michelle Barchmann's Low Confidence Stance

2. Stand with your feet flat on the floor. Barack Obama was standing on one foot (with opposite leg crossed in back of the other) for part of the last debate. This is Bad Body Language in the context of a debate. It sends messages of non-engagement and aloofness.
3. When an audience member or Candy Crowley (tonight's debate moderator) addresses you, turn and point your whole body towards them. Your feet, navel, torso and face should be pointing directly at them. This shows to everyone that you respect them and believe that whatever they are saying is worth listening - everyone watching will for a moment "inject" themselves into the shoes of the audience member who is asking the question. This is an absolute must for developing rapport, building bridges - and getting votes.

Note: in the everyday, you should do this too - however in most day-to-day conversations one should turn your feet and body about 20 to 30 degrees after 5 to 10 seconds after greeting them. Maintaining the parallel body posture in the everyday is too confrontational. In the setting of an audience, primarily because of the greater distances between the speaker and the candidates - as well as the relative brevity of the "conversation", pointing your body towards the audience member is a must.

One or both of you will probably lose votes here by not facing (with your whole body) towards those asking the questions.

Nonverbal Communication Analysis  # 1859: Prince William is Angry at the Queen's Jubilee
4. President Obama in particular - don't look down when the Mitt Romney is speaking. This gives the feel to the audience that you are being lectured to - or reprimanded. Perhaps for a second or to if a lectern/podium is being used to write some notes, but look at the audience or the other candidate.

5. Hand and arm gestures (illustrators) should be used congruently with speech. President Obama - during the last debate your elbows were much too close to the sides of your torso during your illustrators. Such a configuration is low-energy, demure and beta. Obviously you don't want to be overly dramatic here. 

Mitt Romney - you (or whoever is coaching you) must have been reading my blog - because I'm the only expert who's been critiquing you heavily in this issue. You did much better with you hand/arm gestures during the first debate than you ever have before. Big improvement.

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1915: Mitt Romney's Response to Supreme Court's Decision on "Obamacare" (Affordable Care Act)

6. DO NOT, UNDER ANY CONDITION, PUT YOUR HANDS IN YOU POCKETS. This is a tremendous signal of non-engagement and emotional dissonance. Don't be aloof - be engaged.

Nonverbal Communications Analysis # 2074: Mitt Romney and Senator Kelly Ayotte - What Body Language Tells?

7. NEVER TOUCH YOUR HEAD - PARTICULARLY YOUR FACE - OR NECK. These facial MAPs (Manipulators, Adaptors or Pacifiers) are (subconsciously) interpreted by nearly all who watch (even those 99.99% who have no formal body language training) as an ANXIETY SIGNAL. People don't necessary take note - but they are left with a general feeling of unease. When you get a feeling that you can't trust someone (even though they may have said all the right things) - very often they just exampled this type of MAP/Body Language.

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2047: Barack Obama does not Believe

8. Avoid Contempt or disgust displays. You may solidify some of your base - but you'll lose many more of the undecided votes. If you need a primer here - watch ether of your counterparts during the Vice Presidential debate. They both displayed contempt in spades. Contempt and disgust will alienate. They are rapport destroyers.

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2146: Biden vs. Ryan Vice Presidential Debates - Both Candidates Displayed Body Language of Contempt

9. Smile with your eyes. Even children can tell a fake smile. Smiling with your eyes will bring your mouth with it. Most otherwise accomplished and socially skilled people (including you two) can't know how to tell a sincere smile from a modest or good social smile. Nor can you produce one on demand when you really need to do so.

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 353: Brad Pitt's Smiling Eyes - Sincere and Insincere Smiles

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1010: What Makes the Twinkle in Rashida Jones' Eyes?

10. Don't use your forehead too much. Over use of the forehead muscles (particularly the central forehead contraction - aka CFC) is a primary indicators of insincerity. All but your hard core base voters (You know - Those who think the Emperor really has clothes on) will read this as feigned sincerity. Few things are more repelling than smug insincerity.

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2124: This Body Language-Facial Display Should always make you think "Insincere"

11. Avoid using the conventional steeple. Perhaps in very small doses - almost choreographed. Most politicians over use the conventional steeple - thus sending signals of arrogance and condescension. It's a primary example of way too much alpha. If someone uses too much conventional steeple - run don't walk away from them. You are truly only a pawn in their game.

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1503: The Conventional Steeple vs. The Basketball Steeple - Seeking a Balance
12. Hopefully you got some good sleep for at least the past two or three nights. Barack Obama's primary problem may very well have stemmed from lack of sleep. He repeatedly displayed several signals consistent with being tired. Many a skilled speaker, or surgeon, or attorney, or sales person have suffered from this fundamental.

Good luck gentlemen. May the best man win.