Late Wednesday yet another candidate announce his bid for the 2016 Presidential Race. Jim Webb - a democrat - who served in the U.S. Senate for Virginia from 2006 - 2012. He announced his decision via Twitter and the video above was posted on his website and on YouTube shortly thereafter. What follows is a partial nonverbal critique.
Webb has been described as "having a gruff personality", a "stiff campaigner", a "stoic military personality" and "standoffish" among others.
From a production standpoint, the resolution of the video is of low. It's not framed in the typical 16:9 aspect ratio (utilized by YouTube any many other media sources) - subsequently the sides of the video are black. This looks amateurish.
On the right side of the video the medium-blue background moves in a slow wave-like manner. This is visually distracting both physiologically and psychologically. On the left side of the screen the much darker background blends in with the candidate - and acts as a visual metaphor making Webb appear weak and indistinct. This very same mistake was made famous by Richard Nixon in his first Debate with John Kennedy in September of 1960.
Throughout the entirety of this 14 minute video, whenever Sen. Webb is shown - he's virtually in the same position. Webb essentially never moves his body (although we see a slight shrug-like nonverbal exception during the 1:04 - 1:05, when he says, "Over the past few months, thousands of concerned Americans from across the political spectrum have urged me to run for president." In this context, what does this shrug signify?). Sen. Webb is indeed stone-like and stoic.
One key mistake is that Webb's hands are not visible. When we cannot see a person's hands - it is human instinct to trust them less. This principle cannot be over-stated. Indeed when hand and arm gestures (known in body language colloquial as "illustrators") are used in a nuanced, contextual and proportional manner - they will lead to improved rapport, they project assertiveness and confidence - as well as engendering better listening and greater recall of those who hear them.
What do Senator Webb's facial nonverbals tell you? Stay tuned.
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