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Body language expert gives insight on candidates' mannerisms

Prof. Chris Segrin of U of A's School of Communication said candidates should avoid coming off angry or sad, and a smile is the best facial expression to leave a positive impression.

Body language expert gives insight on candidates' mannerisms

CREATED Oct 22, 2012

Reporter: Justin Schecker

Web Producer: Mekita Rivas

 

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - With polls showing the race between President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney neck and neck, their performances tonight in the third and final presidential debate could go a long way in determining the outcome of the election.

Many social scientists argue its not what the candidates say, but how they say it that leaves an impression on viewers at home.

Since the televised Kennedy-Nixon debates in 1960, the images the candidates create are as important as the content of their arguments, Prof. Chris Segrin of U of A's School of Communication told 9 On Your Side. 

Candidates should strive to make eye contact with their opponent, as well as the camera in order to connect with the viewers at home, Segrin said.

Candidates should also stand up straight, while keeping a relaxed posture. The use of hand gestures are important in terms of coming off as confident, Segrin added. 

"Just like we talked about with gesture, gaze and facial expression, that it doesn't become excessive and that it doesn't become forced," Segrin said. "It has to come across as natural and spontaneous. Audience members will pick up quite quickly on the fact that this is acting otherwise and they don't want to come across that way. They need to come across as genuine."

Segrin said candidates should avoid coming off angry or sad, and a smile is the best facial expression to leave a positive impression. 

As for the candidates' use of non-verbal communication so far, Segrin said both candidates' public speaking experience was on display in the first two debates.