Effective Ways To Influence Through Nonverbal Communications

When a candidate or surrogate speaks to an audience, a lot of thought and energy usually goes into what is said; but, how it is said can have just as much impact on your audience.

How you present yourself before, during and after your speech affects an audience’s perception as much the words you choose.

Joe Navarro, who worked as an FBI special agent in counterintelligence and behavioral assessment, wrote a 2012 article for The Art Of titled “10 Effective Ways Leaders Can Influence Others Through Nonverbal Communications.”

Here are three that are particularly relevant:


President Bill Clinton EyesDirect, engaging, and steady eye contact is highly endearing. Effective leaders engage others by making steady eye contact that is welcoming and shows interest. Just about anyone who has met former President Bill Clinton will tell you that he makes “great eye contact” and “makes you feel as though you are the only person there.” The most influential leaders engage the person they are talking to by using their eyes to show interest and concern, and they focus on people one at a time.


Leaders command the space around them, visually and physically. President Barack Obama Nonverbal communicationsThey engage everyone in a room with their eyes, and they physically interact, when possible, with all four corners of the room. In the second presidential debate of 2012, President Obama masterfully walked the stage from right to left, forward and back, commanding the theater of interaction. Influential leaders use their eyes and their physical presence to connect with the room. That means no hiding behind lecterns; they use the whole stage, confidently moving around and using their eyes to personally communicate with everyone present.


President Johnson HandshakeEven in this day and age, influential leaders employ touch. Not to harass or patronize, and certainly not in a sexual way, but to say, “I care.” A thoughtful and proper touch on the arm or the shoulder says “You are important to me.” Many leaders of industry can attest to this, citing a mentor or leader who used a physical connection to communicate far more than mere words. Proper touch, be it through a handshake, an abrazo, or hand on the shoulder, communicates empathy and care on a level no words can match.

Navarro’s piece is a great read and worth your time! See the whole article by clicking here.

I would add one that Navarro doesn’t touch on …


At political events, some of the most important contacts are made in the minutes right before and right afterward. Try to get there early and stay late so that you can “work the room.” This isn’t always possible, but politics can be a small world; and, believe me, candidates who always show up late and leave early get noticed and commented on … Not nicely!

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