John McCain's Body Language

John McCain nonverbals are different from the other candidates in their lack of full body movement, lack of gestures, lack of vocal variation and overall lack of energy. He does of course have health concerns that effect his movement. When speaking in the youtube video the controversial Pig Book his voice has and very little variation in pitch tone or volume, perhaps in an attempt at gravitas.

Of all the videos I watched the only time I noted him speaking emotionally with vocal variation and a with fast and intense pace is when he was defending his statements about the war winding down (not sure of exact words) that the media had called him on. On video John McCain talks about the war.

Off all the candidates McCain blinks the most frequently. Normal blink rate is 20 closures per minute. If someone blinks even slightly more than that, it can be sign he or she is excited or nervous. Watch when he blinks the most to see what he is uncomfortable talking about.
I have been analyzing hours of tape for a three-part History Channel special that I am shooting this weekend. Here are my rough notes on Obama's voice as he did his victory speech at the Iowa Caucus back in January. Barack's voice is naturally a deep, full, low baritone. According to research, deep low voices are perceived as more authoritative, believable, and trustworthy. Combine that with the ease with which he can speak loudly without any vocal strain, and you can hear his voice coming from the TV in another room and feel its authority and power. As much as she tries to control it and make it sound lower, Hillary's voice is not naturally low. When she attempts to lower it, she strains it and sounds screechy and angry.

Obama's paralanguage is chameleon-like. He changes his voice so dramatically to suit his location, his audience, and his topic, that it is difficult to know just what his real voice is or who he truly is. Listen to how Obama's cadence has that certain rhythm like a Baptist preacher. Listen to how he speaks on beat and extends certain words. For example, "They saaaaaaaid this day would never come." Preachers have a special rhythmic pattern where their voices fluctuate up and down like a song and pause on a beat rhythmically like a paradiddle on a drum. His speaking is so musical and pleasing to the ear, that we can be moved by the rhythm and not even hear the words. In fact the words may actually lack substance and he can get by without really saying anything new in the speech.

Obama’s vocal style is hypnotic, such that when his voice goes up and then he pauses, you almost want to cheer and say amen. You can’t help yourself. He actually copies the feel and the cadence of Martin Luther King’s “I had a dream” speech. Listen to how to his volume goes up and up and up…stirring the crowd, and then he pauses for effect. He waits until the audience cheers before he moves on to the next sentence. Pausing makes the word before the pause, and sometimes the entire sentence before the pause, sound more powerful and important.

And notice how he says particular words, like “you small towns and churches, Ameeerica, and affooordableeeee. As he draws these words out, he puts on a slightly more southern accent or he casually slurs the word. That makes him sound like one of the common folk. So even when we know that he came from an upper class family, when he says, “calloused hand by calloused hand,” he sounds like he was there with us working on the farm and plowing the field.

Check out the video:

Body language analysis of Presidential candidate Obama

One of the most interesting and dramatic aspects of Obama’s body and para language is that it changes so much from speech to speech and location to location. While many candidates slow down their speech slightly to charm their southern audiences and increase their rate for New York news shows, Obama transforms. For example, if you had never heard him speak before and watched him give his Selma Alabama speech you would note his voice is extremely slow and takes on the relaxed consonants and cadence of Alabama. When he is interviewed on1/10/2007 concerning his response to the Bush Speech his voice pace is face, his speech is clipped, and his consonants are crisp.

When he is out in crowds he stops to talk to someone he laser focuses on them. He gives them significant extended eye contact, leans forward and stays in their intimate zone of space. These behaviors we observed in the “charismatic Clinton.
Remember what makes a candidate look honest and powerful to us when we view him or her on the small screen, may be counter to what may look appropriate to the audience he or she is speaking to when they are taped in front of a live audience. When speaking, behind a podium or on a stage without he does something rather unusual he turns his face and body to sides or moves his entire body towards the audience to shows his desire to empathize and connect with them. However, when we view that on video we may read it differently subconsciously. For example, In the Selma speech he turns his face and body to his right side then left again and again, rather than focus to the front and center. Front and center speaking is read as more honest, more forthright and powerful. On the tapes speech 2 of 5 on you/tube he actually leans his body from the waist up out towards the audience of students as he makes each point. Typically candidates stay straight up and down to show they are “Straight” and strong on issues.
Obama’s body language cues are different in debates and interviews than in speeches. In Third televised debate Keys Obama becomes visibly angry he jabs out his finger at the interviewer in a symbolic weapon even a one time at the end of the interview. At one point he even puts up both hands with the forefingers out symbolically firing as if there were guns in each hand pushes his hand out toward, not just in a symbolic stop sign, but a more aggressive pushing away motion. Nonverbally when can see he is an emotional man. Look for interviews like his response to Bush speech. Watch his mouth goes up more on his left side. Our emotional right hemisphere controls the left side of he face when there is a split face and one side shows more than the other note which side. The mouth twisting up to his left says he was feeling very emotional and though he wished to control it he couldn’t.

Body Language Influences on the Presidential Vote

As an expert in body language I am often asked to do reads of political leaders. (Yes, I know your thinking, “How do you become an expert on such a weird thing.) I have communication degrees with a specialization in body language, taught the topic at the university level, and have researched, written and spoken on it for over 25 years)

Last week I was asked by Psychology today to study tapes of the speeches and interviews of the top presidential candidates over the next few weeks I will be posting to my blog the detailed notes I took as I read over 12 hours of tapes on the candidates. I wanted to start my discussion with a research study on the influence of body language on political choice - body language influence on Presidential voting.

Body language influences us in so many ways, but did you know it profoundly effects who is chosen as president of the United States. Researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research studied the effects of charisma on politics The study involved a group of Harvard undergraduates who were shown 10-second silent video clips of candidates in 58 gubernatorial elections between 1988 and 2000--candidates unfamiliar to the study participants. When asked who they thought had won the election the students were still able to choose the candidate who won 60% of the time. They didn’t know anything about the background of and more importantly never heard a word they said. Their choices where made purely on the basis of body language!

What explained this? "Shapiro was reluctant to call it charisma, although his colleague Danial J. Benjamin, a fellow at the University of Michigan...had no such qualms. He noted 'We found that snap decisions based on charisma are good predictors of election outcomes'."

How did they define Charisma? They used a definition from German sociologist Max Weber, who studied charisma, described it as a gift of power, leadership. They were looking at the body language seeing those strong power characteristics and saying that is the body language of a leader. In fact, According to US psychologist, Alex Todorov, people respond intuitively to faces so rapidly, that their reasoning minds may not have time to influence the reaction. The results of the newest research say that when we see a new face, our brains decide whether that person is attractive and trustworthy within one-tenth of a second.