Body Language Insights Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook's Testimony Before the Senate. Apology

This is a body language read I did for the Dow Jones news publication Moneyish on Mark Zuckerberg


Here are my rough notes of my read including an analysis of his apology!

Body Language and apology analysis of  Mark Zuckerberg‘s testimony before Congress today for the meeting .
Forgive my voice to text these are my rough notes as I analyze Mark Zuckerberg‘s nonverbal cues during his testimony today.
I went back and watched his very first media interview where actually he seemed incredibly calm and slightly cocky especially as he talked about how users could enter their personal information at that time he thought sharing private information was the best aspect of the Facebook platform. It was quite dramatic how excited he was about that. Remember he thought it would help people find people to engage with socially and intellectually.
Fast forward to an interview several years ago and you start to see mouth window cues that show his anxiety in responding to certain questions about what Facebook does and about its privacy. In this interview he does what I have labelled tongue cleanses after he speaks. He sticks out his tongue and cleanses it with his teeth to show he’s not happy with what he just shared and that sometimes can be an indication that what he just said was not fully truthful. You also see him sweat in these more high stress interviews. And you start seeing him do a masking smile which actually looks like a grimace as he finishes sentences. The masking smile at the end of sentences indicates he’s not sure what he said is going down well. And just like the tongue cleanse it could be an indication that he doesn’t fully believe what he is saying they are scripted responses.
In the actual testimony before congress, I think what’s most interesting is that he’s even doing anxiety cues as he makes positive statements for example when he talks about growth he’s doing a masking smile so he’s not even sure as he says positive statements about his company whether Congress and the viewers are going to think that growth is a positive thing ... that’s interesting to me. The confidence in that first interview that I watched is gone today.

You may think he appears calm, but in his micro facial cues he shows extreme nervousness in the first hour of his testimony before the senate. I see an interesting mixture of anxiety and a little bit of anger. It seems the statements where he is showing anger or about what has happened that’s changed his worldview that others took the data and did bad things with it. It’s clear from his nonverbal cues as he talks about this that it makes him angry.
If you watch his nonverbal cues as he’s been introduced you’ll note that he looks down quite a bit. He actually looking towards his notes. This is a common nervousness cue that I coach my presentation, media and testamoney coachign cleints NOT to do. It happens when someone is nervous as people attach themselves to their notes when they are afraid of saying something wrong and or they are afraid they won't remember the right, prepared talking pointn.
He is also looking down a little bit in embarrassment as well. He is clearly uncomfortable.
You can see that anxiety in the tension around his mouth he gives a thin straight line trying to suppress his anxiety but the fact that his face is not relaxed and the lips aren’t turned up at the end slightly and a normal relaxed resting face indicate is his anxiety and fear.
Let me tell you what was interesting about his actual apology statement. I have a chapter in one of my books on how to give a proper apology and I read the nonverbal cues, and do content analysis of apology statements quite frequently for the media and I have been doing so for years. As you might guess
what I typically see is a "I have been caught, now I have to pretend I'm am sorry fake apology." Here Mark Zukerberg was honest. I see and hear a true apology. He gives an not just a proper apology statement but does so in a sincere painful to watch manner.
I coach my clients in situations that creepy fake apologies are worse than keeping quiet. What are some of the criteria for a true apology. First you need to say that your sorry for having done the deed. (Not the old, "I am sorry that you feel bad about what I did."
Zuckerberg says, "I’m sorry." and then he takes full responsibility even making the statement, "I own the company I am responsible for what happened.." and goes on to give details about what he did wrong. So his verbal communication his words lone are remarkable because they do with most people don’t do when they make apology statements!
Non verbally you can actually hear a break in his voice as he apologizes that para language. That is very difficult to fake. A consummate actor could do that, (he is not a consummate actor.)
You can't coach people to feel real pain. Here is something else that is unusual. He slows down slightly as he gives his apology statement is normal baseline communication is typically to give a very fast delivery inside of a sentence in this case he’s slows down his pace in the sentence. This pacing differance was proably coached. This is something I have actually coached my cleints to do.
But here is what you cant coach. Sincerity. The apology was effective. I think it immediately made people like him more. Again. He really did feel pain at what had happened and pain at his responsibility for it.
He had a lot of trouble making eye contact with his questionnaire in the first hour of his testimony. Something that is critical to making your answers sound real honest and conversational. I spend a lot of time in media and expert witness coaching working with clients on this. He eventually got that important turn taking down. Coaches often coach their clients to sip water or beverage to gain time and think of your answer and to simply calm down. But that can backfire on you as it did for Bill Clinton in the Monica Lewinski questioning. Its just plain akward being the only one drinking and having cameras record it. That has to be practiced over and over if your going to use that technique to gather your thoughts. It backfired on Zukerberg.
Though he has a lack of general affect that makes him look a bit like Data, his answers made him look so much more intelligent than most of the ill prepared senators.  He eventually began to look like the most credible person in the room! Even as he evaded direct questions! So interesting. 

Patti Wood, MA - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at
     Here's What Mark Zukerberg's Body Language During his Senate Testimony Tell Us.