Jeb Bush made his formal announcement of his candidacy for the 2016 Presidential election today at Miami Dade College. This of course came as no surprise to anyone. His speech, at least the verb components, was good - but not great. The possible "Bush 45" is not considered to be a very dynamic speaker. The reason for this however is not primarily in his words - but in his body language.
One wise tactic of Bush's was to use a minimalist lectern that does not obscure a good share of his body. This makes him more likable and easier to trust. The less we see of another person (e.g., speaking from behind a large, traditional lectern) the less we believe them and the less we like them.
Bush's body language was a good deal beta however. He very often used, what for him seems to be a default configuration - interlaced fingers resting on the lectern just above waist-level. Depending on the other nonverbals with which it is clustered, interlaced fingers often conveys impatience and frustration - even anger, yet here it signals a less assertive, more demure emotional tone. While there are some occasional exceptions, self-touching is to be largely avoided by any public speaker. Such practice should be second-nature to a politician of his experience. Jeb needs some work.
Below, Bush is a seen in a standing "Fig-Leaf" configuration (aka "Genital Guarding"). Again, there are exceptions when presidents, former presidents and presidential candidates should indeed display the fig-leaf body language - such as at a funeral, religious service, a wedding, interacting with a major religious figure, when a former president appears with a current one in a speech or public appearance, at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier - and a few others. But here, while running for president - and particularly at his kick-off speech, Jeb Bush should NEVER stand or sit in a fig-leaf position.
Many candidates (and other so-called "leaders") project alpha signals much too frequently - and thus what should transmit confidence and assertiveness instead sends signals of arrogance and condescending emotional tones. These are examples of hyper-alpha mistakes. Here Jeb Bush is doing the opposite, he's over-doing the beta signals. It is certainly good to be humble - but not hyper-beta. Anyone who displays the fig-leaf outside the context of the scenarios mentioned above is sending signals of weakness and projects low-confidence. He simply does not look at all presidential.
What other body language was Bush doing wrong?
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