Body Language in Elections
It’s why we watch some shows over others. Believe it or not, It’s also many times how elections are won. The recent debates between Mitt Romney and President Obama are some of the most scrutinized moments of television you will ever see. Why? Because every little nuance, facial gesture, spoken word, type of clothing and vocal tone all determine whether or not voters believe them and want to vote for them.
I’ve heard many people tell me they want to be on TV, and many times the first thing I notice, or don’t notice for that matter is the way their body language speaks to those around them. I once heard someone say, “If you’re full of joy you better notify your face, because it sure doesn’t look like it from where I’m standing.” This holds true for so many people and the funny thing is they don’t even know it! So how do you change that?
Nearly all body language behaviors and non-verbal communication include one or more of eight primary areas. These areas alone or in combination, can communicate powerfully to the people around you, your audience and your fans. They are your:
Body language literally means, ‘non-verbal communication with your body.’ Everyone you meet or who sees you will notice it and many times we don’t give it enough attention. Don’t be fooled into ignoring it and think your ability to talk will overcome it. Audiences have the ability to see right through you if you don’t present yourself in a cool confident manner. Don’t blow your opportunity to impress them!
Body Language on TV
A great way to learn the secrets of body language is to watch television with the sound turned off and try to interpret what is being said simply from reading body language. Everyone on TV says a lot with their mouth, but many times their verbal language is a contradiction of their posture, gestures and other communication.
Your body language is an incredibly important channel of communication, and it should be interpreted with care. The human brain communicates to the body how to position itself. Body language is something we command with our subconscious and is intended to create a balance between inner feelings and outer appearance. It’s the movements of arms and legs, body posture, the manner in which you sit, facial expressions, eye movements and regular gestures such as stroking your hair, touching your nose, etc.
Do you hold your hands close to your face when you talk? Did you know this is a sign of insecurity? The same is true if you’re fixing your hair all the time or pushing or curling it behind your ear.
Do you sit comfortably? The way that people sit in chairs is not coincidental. If you tend to lounge with your arms and legs dangling, it’s likely a sign that you’re relaxed and comfortable. If you sit on the edge of the chair with your legs stretched and feet crossed, this signals apathy or lack of concern.
If you sit on the edge of your chair with your feet together, this body tension spreads to the respiratory system, forcing your breathing and making you sound short of breath. This is why those who are nervous on TV speak very quickly!
On television it’s interesting to watch contestants in quiz shows like ‘Jeopardy’. You can detect their understandable tension from the way they hold their hands till their knuckles turn white and also from observing their quickened breathing.
Or take a discussion between politicians, for example. The control is there, even when they get angry but there will be a small muscle by the mouth that is quivering or a vein that’s pulsating and turning red. Cheeks turn red in women who are angry or embarrassed while men’s ears often turn red under similar circumstances.
Research has shown that the speaker’s face is the most reliable source of information about the mood of a person. It is through visual experiences that happiness, surprise, anger or disrespect is communicated while auditory experiences communicate fear. In order to check someone’s mood, you must observe facial muscles.
• How they are tightened and loosened.
• How the lines around the mouth are softened.
• How the wrinkles around the eyes can express a feeling and appearance of happiness.
The same features express anger and disrespect, while softer features are taken to express kindness and friendliness – but only if the feelings are portrayed through the eyes. A mouth that smiles without the eyes smiling sends a signal that you’re being fake or unreliable. Eyebrows that quickly rise up and down show acceptance. If you raise your eyebrows and keep them raised for a while it signals surprise and astonishment – perhaps even anger.
In essence, your body language is literally your billboard to the audience watching! Think about how many people watch TV at a health club and can only see the picture, but not hear it. How are they going to portray you? Are you tight, straight faced and reserved? Or are you relaxed, outgoing and smiling? Obviously the hope is that you are the later and that’s what you need to be working on.