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Obama's and Romney's body language tells during debate. (Dr. Lillian Glass)
October 4, 2012 at 10:15 PM>

Romney’s Body Language, Voice, and Speech Pattern Outshine Obama In First Debate


Before you read this blog know that I am NOT a political commentator nor am I a political person. I am objective and just report only what I see from my viewpoint and expertise as a behavioral analyst and body language and communication expert.

So before you spew out your political views and make personal attacks towards me know that I am ONLY reporting this from a BODY LANGUAGE point of view and that I have NO political agenda.


It was very interesting to watch both candidates greet one another as they both used the power gesture which let the other one know that they were the one in control. As they shook hands they mutually grabbed one another’s forearms as they both smiled and looked directly into one another’s eyes. They obviously let the other know that they were equally powerful and self confident as you can see int he photo above.

As they began the debate Obama did not look directly into the camera as Romeny did. When someone looks directly at their audience there is a greater connection.

When both candidates made there final statements Obama only looked directly into the camera for a few seconds while Romney looked directly into the camera on a continuous basis and spoke directly to his audience.

Obama displayed signals of anxiety as he spoke as he pursed his lips and licked his lips which may have indicated he had a bit of dry mouth during the debate. When he spoke for the second time during the first section of the debate he said “uh” or “eh” a total of 15 times which distracted from his fluency in delivering his message. This may also have been a reflection of his anxiety at the beginning of the debate.

Over all throughout the debate Romneny used wider, broader gestures that were more away from the body which reflected more of an openness

while Obama used more closed gestures closer to his body which reflected that he was more self contained in what he was saying.

Whenever Obama spoke on behalf of Romney and laid out Romney’s views, he was slammed by Romney, who vigorously defended himself. This was not a very wise plan on Obama’s part. Each time he was slammed by Romney, Obama looked down and had a sheepish expression on his face complete with tight lips which were pursed and a non genuine smile of what appeared to be a “smile of embarrassment”.

Most of he time when Romney spoke, Obama did not look at him. Instead he looked down and pursed his lips which indicated tension. Even though his lips were positioned into a smile, it was not a genuine smile but rather a smirk as his lips often swung to the side.

On the other hand, whenever Obama spoke, Romney calmly looked directly at him and did not make any extraneous negative facial movements.

Romeny had a lot of passion in his voice and a lot of emotion as he spoke. He used a lot of varied inflection to express his points, whereas Obama did not do so.

When confronted by Romney you can see Obama look down and there is muscle tension at the side of his jaw which on several occasions was seen pulsating. This indicated suppressed anger on Obama’s part. You can see this lower jaw tension in the photo above.

As Romney spoke, Obama not only did not look at him, he leaked out signals of anger as seen above as he pursed his lips several times , where there is considerable muscle tension around his obicularis oris muscles around his lips.

While Romney didn’t follow the rules of the debate and overpowered the moderator by insisting he define and defend his position when he believed he was allegedly misquoted by Obama,it did display a quality of leadership, taking charge, and a no nonsense approach. He also consistently enumerated his points as #1, #2, #3, etc. which made it easier for the viewer to follow what he was trying to say.

Obama followed suit but only did this one time in the later part of the debate and only enumerated on a point 1 and point 2.

Feet can tell you a great deal about a person’s state of mind. When we look at Obamas’ feet at the podium we see that his toe is on the ground while his heel is off the ground. When a person does this it usually means that the person wants to get out of there and they don’t want to stay. Obama was most likely subconsciously saying “Let me out of here. ” “I can’t wait until this debate is over. “

When Romney told Obama that he picks the losers in relation to various companies he mentioned, Obama looks down in embarrassment, yet smiles a genuine smile as the apples of his cheeks are raised, his teeth are showing and his eyes are squinted as you can see above. This is a smile of truth, indicating that he acknowledges that he did indeed pick some losers.

But then his expression morphs into one of embarrassment as he realizes that he is not happy about this point which was brought out during this debate.

Then his expression quickly morphs into anger as he cocks his head and jut his lower jaw and lip foreword.

When Romney confronts Obama and says that he has been in business for 25 years and doesn’t know what Obama is talking about, we see Obama raise his eyebrows as indicated by the crinkling of his forehead in an expression of surprise that Romney could actually say this to him. The lip pursing indicates anger at what Romeny has said.

During the last part of the debate a Romeny sets Obama straight with the fact of what he plans to do ,Obama’s facial expression indicates that the is holding back his anger as you can see by his severely pursing his lips and the narrowing of his eyes and the lowering of his eyebrows . He is also seen swallowing hard.

Obama gains control by taking in a visibly large breath of air and abruptly exhaling to immediately release his anger and his tension.

But then when Romney shared how many of those green companies supported Obama in his campaign, once again we see the “smile of embarrassment ” as Obama pulls aways from Romney’s verbal punch by cocking his head to the side as he leaks out a sheepish expression.

Overall, Romeny is much more fluent , fluid, inflected and animated in his speech than Obama which makes him more appealing as a communicator in this debate as opposed to Obama who is more hesitant and staccato and exhibits more pause time in his speaking pattern and often repeats words and interjects multiple “uhs” which breaks the flow of his communication.

In making his final statements Obama does not take advantage of speaking directly to his 40 million viewers around the world by looking directly into the camera. He looks down and to the side.

Romney on the other hand made his final appeal to the public by looking right at them through the lens of the camera. He took full advantage of that opportunity. While Romney appeared to be more relaxed and in control throughout the debate, while making his final statements he did blink excessively at times. While eye blinking is often known as a signal of deception, it can also be a signal of anxiety as well as he made his final points directly to the eye of the camera.He was passionate and dynamic in his delivery. There is also a breathy quality to his vocal pattern which is reminiscent of Ronald Reagan as he expresses key points.

As far as body language, facial expression,voice quality, and speech pattern are concerned, Romney clearly won this debate


    October 6, 2012 at 9:30 AM

     You don't care about body language but who is the best man for the president? What a novel idea here!

    Quoting lga1965:

     I'm sure as hell not going to vote for someone just because of his body language. And judging their body language is too subjective. Besides, I saw that Romney did a whole lot of smirking and looking aggressive and arrogant. I don't care of Ms Glass likes Romney's body language .I don't care if any of YOU think his body language was effective or impressive. I care about who is the best the man for the job.

  • OHgirlinCA
    October 6, 2012 at 9:36 AM

     I'm so ready for this election to be over....

  • Stephanie329
    October 6, 2012 at 1:22 PM
    And hell froze over!


    Quoting candlegal:

    I think I just saw a pig flying over my house   :)

    Quoting Stephanie329:

    We agree on something? Hey, first time for everything :)

    Quoting candlegal:

    I think it is easier to be in control when you are somewhere you want to be.  I don't think he wanted anything to do with this debate but really didn't have a choice.

    Quoting Stephanie329:

     I think it's intersting, that Obama showed so much anger. He is normally more in control and articulate. 

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