Body Language Read of Bill O'Brien Introductory Press Conference for New Penn State Head Coach

Body Language and Media Coach Read of Bill O'Brien at the Introductory Press Conference for the new Penn State head coach. Bill O'Brien replaces the legendary Joe Paterno, who coached the team for the last half-century and resigned in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky's scandal. Watching the introductory press conference, normally warm and relaxed, Bill looks stressed and reads his notes. Here are my rough unedited notes of Bill's body language. This will be up later on I did this read for my interview for the article on

For comparison, here he is during one of his press conferences with the Patriots:

1. What does his body language say to you in the first video? How coached does he appear to be in that video? What are the telltale signs?

I coach people to speak and to be interviewed. He did a good job on bringing his credibility to the men who introduced him by shaking their hands on his way to the podium after he was introduced.
He showed fear and is uncomfortable.
Looked at coaches shook hands but got up to podium and looked down. He grabbed the sides of the podium.
I know that’s a little boring. my wife, my chief of staff had to read her credits how to recruit. Special Michael, Steel that hat. Tom
“All the people that make this university so special.” Lip press. Negative, feeling.

“Ahh Rod Erickson. That was read, unlike the previous introductions very planned staged he was being very careful and notice how his voice got tense and tight as he struck out then got mangled on the word integrity as he said you are a man of INTEGRITY. He had been told that was an important word to say, but he had a hard time saying it with conviction. Also notice how he doesn’t move toward him or gesture toward him as he did with his wife, brother and son so warmly. Instead he rocks oddly from side to side in a self comfort movement showing his nervousness. He doesn’t STAND firm. As he talks about the committee his says “Their mentorship means very very much to me, then he rocks and sticks out his tongue.

2. What are the fall backs he relies on to handle what is clearly an uncomfortable situation? He does a great job with his humor and warmth as he introduces his family. That made him appear very likable.

3. Doesn’t deliver what I would say is the most important point, “…Football team …highest level of character. Instead he speeds through it like a rabbit reading from his notes and mangles the word integrity again by stuttering out the word and having to re say it. He again doesn’t say weight adjustment.

4. When talking about coach Parterno. “I can’t wait to meet him, as soon, as soon as I can get that done.” His voice goes down and he was looking down. He is nervous rather than looking forward to that meeting. The video actually blurs out Bill's mouth as he first says Paterno's name and blurs out Bill's mouth several times during that piece of tape, the one time it doesn’t blur it out is when he says Paterno’s name and sticks his tongue out. I wonder what the blurred bits showed Bill doing when he talked about Paterno?

5. Really like his personal intro to the letter near the last minute and half that he said he worked on (the content of the speech) I liked really how he looked out and said I can see it, (the controversy.) But his voice was so tense as he red the letter and he didn’t cheer and get happy on the most important last line, “We are Penn State.”

6. What is his body language like in the Patriots video and how is it different? In the old Patriots interview his voice is lower in pitch, volume, slower, relaxed. and speed. What is most striking is his eye contact. I can tell that he does pressed lips and mouth cues as he finishes a long statement here so it is more of his baseline rather than exclusive to the new speech today. He is obviously off script in the Patriots interviews and he is answering questions directly so that increases his interaction. He is his own man here. He hasn’t been told what to say.

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Also check out the body language quiz on her YouTube Channel at