Presidential Body Language 2020
As the 2020 race for president draws to a close, according to Gallup polling U.S. voters are feeling both enthusiastic about voting with a record high 64% strongly agreeing with the statement that they are ‘afraid of what will happen if my candidate for president does not win’ and fearful of what the outcome will mean for the country.
Most also agree that the stakes are higher than in previous presidential elections.
Communicating authentically is pivotal to gain connection and elevate career success
Research shows that at least 55% of our communication is delivered via body language, 38% through tone of voice and only 7% through the actual words we speak. The benefits of recognising the subtle messages sent as well as projecting confidence and putting others at ease is huge, and pivotal for political candidates to make the impact they desire to get people on side. The way people initiate a connection with their audience tells a lot about their agenda and what they want to achieve.
The debates are over so what does Trump and Biden's body language tell us?
During this brief analysis offering an overview of general body language, alongside some important body language cues observed from candidates on the election trail. We will assess the overall aspects of the candidates from a body language analysis perspective on : Power - Presence - Connection
The 1st and 2nd debate varied considerably, probably due to extra coaching after the 1st debate which reflected non-armed attacking gladiators fighting in a brawl, showing neither party at their best. Most politicians or people in power are coached and rehearse many times before hand and events are stage managed to show the candidate in the best possible light... usually!
However the underlying character of each candidate shone through their behaviour, posture, gestures, facial expressions alongside the stressor and attack signals showing more of their underlying personality.
Power and Leadership
At the onset of the debate Trump takes a more aggressive power stance widening his upper body taking up more space as he grabbed the side of the podium. Whilst Biden stands more humbly with his hands by his sides.
Trump often likes to exhibit a show of power and aggression as a show of strength. Whilst Biden primary aim appears to be to connect with the people from a non-confrontational united perspective, which is reflected in their different styles and non-verbal signals
They both show an upright powerful posture facing the mediator. But interestingly neither have a widened leg stance, which is often used when natural confidence is present. Suggesting a nervousness as both parties have their legs close together, despite the upper body posture of Trump.
Most people want their president to be serious and approachable and exude a power and competence that they can trust. This can often be shown in posture, facial expressions and hand gestures.
hands clapped together above the waist shows a powerful focused determination.
chop hand gesture shows a determination to lead whilst creating connection.
or alternatively it can show exasperation.
wanting to focus others, take charge and offer direction.
Fighters Fists exhibit a show of power with a willingness to fight to get
what the person wants and can often galvanises others to fight with you to win.
to part of the world, with the same gesture insulting the other half of the world.
more linear, logical or a creative out of the box thinker.
Trump's classic accordion backward-forward hand gestures shows
he's often thinking creatively on the spot in the moment.
He then pushes his hands towards the audience to offer them his ideas.
from the onset, they are more linear, balanced, prepared and focused.
Presence or Stressed
Good leaders adopt the natural body language of a director - maintaining an upright open stance, looking down slightly, smiling less, carrying a strong sense of being in charge of themselves with a more dominant stance to create greater presence.
Leadership Presence is
an intangible quality that empowers the individual and inspires others. Through self-awareness, emotional intelligence and conscious
communication the ability to positively influence situations is elevated and expanded to gain greater respect, recognition and increase results..
the podium with the left hand, stabilising themselves emotionally.
holding the emotional side of his body fixed, being more action orientated.
another person off to indicate they are in charge.
it shows confidence and a determined balanced approach.
When directed outward it's a message to others. Touching yourself in a
hand gesture can either be a gesture of heartfelt sincerity
or a tendency towards narcissism.
can feel as if they're being told off by a school teacher, which is a big turn off.
Trump can be seen with his arms folded in a hug like contracted gesture
around his body. Suggesting a need to protect himself, close off
from the situation and internally process his thoughts.
Biden uses laughter, looking down or closing his eyes
for a moment to block out what he doesn't want to hear,
see or experience when stressed.
Touching this area helps reconnect and refocus.
Connection or Disconnected
When you become truly present ensuring your interactions are focused on being connected with yourself first. So you're clear how you're coming across and can adapt easily to increase rapport with others. It's easier to relate in a way that engages others, so they want to interact, trusting you and feeling better for the experience.
Then your communication creates a deeper connection to collaborate as a team, leaving a positive lasting impression on people you meet personally or in business. Creating a connection with others is about thinking of the big picture, of unity rather than just your own agenda.
An aspect of being able to connect well with yourself so you can self manage stress when others are relaying their message without reaction, to absorb what they're saying to competently respond is 'Listening' skills. How someone shows their response to listening to others says a lot about their sense of power in the situation ie. 'I'm not threatened by you' or 'I'm threatened by you'.
chin up show of anger or sadness or both when listening to Trump.
of contempt showing superiority and scorn when listening to Biden.
Biden looks down instead of being present to Trump when he's speaking.
He shows disbelief signals, laughs, blinks,
points his finger or shrugs his shoulders.
distracts by moving himself and his hands around in extraverted hand gestures,
Biden connects with
the audience using a leadership hand tunnel of focus whilst
looking straight down the camera lense, much like a preacher on a pulpit.
by wearing masks at their rallies.
There's nothing like a genuine smile that reaches the eyes to
build genuine connection and trust with other people.
denoting power over or dominance of others.
Trump and Pence use hand gestures to connect with others in an 'ok' signal.
Pence holds his hand higher than Trumps on his left side,
really wanting to get the message across. .
Body Language Analyst for TVNZ, 7 Sharp, Breakfast TV, AM Show, The Cafe, TV3, Thrive, The Herald, Stuff and Yahoo. Working alongside mainstream media to report on key figures, and was TVNZ’s ‘go to’ analyst during the last three elections. Suzanne is a feature writer in several magazines and co-author of #No.1 best-selling books ‘Align, Expand, Succeed’, ‘101 Ways to Enhance Your Career’, 'Eddie Motion & the Tangible Magik'.
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