Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Why Obama Really Became President!

It doesn't matter where in the world you are -- "Obama" is the one name on everyone's lips today. But what makes Obama so inspirational to the masses? Most would say it is because he is a symbol of forward thinking and change to the American people. He is the antithesis of "white, old and stodgy," a symbol for young voters, the perfect candidate for an America that pines for reform.

But what else makes him so special? In response to this question, I would like to share with you a short video I found on the CNN website that discusses the linguistic take on Obama's success with the people.

In this video, Bill McGowan, a body language specialist, explains the criteria which we use to pick our favourite candidate. He explains that our decisions during an election are based on only 30% of what the candidate is actually saying. The rest is based mostly upon "their demeanour, their facial expressions, their tone of voice, [and] their movements."

Obama's appeal exists because his overall demeanour precisely matches what we would expect from a 'president of the United States'. He has the loquacity of a university professor, the energy of a gospel preacher, and the caring tone of a protective father or brother -- all qualities we associate with a true leader. When he speaks, his manner is cool and collected, and his body language, direct and confident.

Perhaps the most important body language cue Obama has down pat is the use of eye contact. McGowan explains that this was most salient during the debates when Obama consistently maintained eye contact with whomever he spoke, and leaned forward to express interest and concern. McCain, on the other hand, was jittery and rarely maintained eye contact with one person for more than a few seconds. Unfortunately for McCain, those who are evasive of the gaze of other people are generally considered somewhat duplicitous, regardless of whether or not they actually are.

Additionally, a personal observation I made about Obama is how he utilizes his hands to earn the trust of his audience. When he speaks, he has the tendency to caress the air, as if it were the head of a young child in need. (Metaphor for the desperate American people, anyone?) And more importantly, as McGoman suggests, he moves his hands only when necessary, mostly to emphasis the presence of an important statement. In contrast, McCain became somewhat of a practical joke after the debates because his movements didn't seem to have a purpose. He would move around sporadically, or simple wander about the stage without a particular aim. This kind of body language can project the image of instability and volatility -- not exactly something the United States needs right now.

Alone, any one of these characteristics would be insufficient to secure a place in the heart of people. But Obama has them all.

What else can I say? Obama = president. I sure am convinced!


Anonymous said...

A little over my head but well written !!!

amethyst said...

Very true, very true.

Interestingly, somebody recently told me that "Obama is an Oreo cookie - white on the inside and black on the outside." !!

Any thoughts?

Mamma Mia said...

I saw Bob McGowan speaking about this on television.Obama really does come over as a trustworthy individual while McCain always appeared to be mouthing the right words withoutthe meaning behind the words. An interesting blog, Heath.

heather-in-italia said...

Thanks everyone for the comments :) I want to know who anonymous is though! Dad perhaps?? Hehe.

I've heard that little Obama ditty before. Is it referring to his politics as white politics? Or is it just a silly joke?

Yeah, I never realized until McGowan spoke on TV about the significance of body language that McCain's overall composure really set me on edge. Now I know why!

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