Term Paper: Nonverbal Communications of Celebrities George W. Bush

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Nonverbal Communications of Celebrities

George W. Bush:

President George W. Bush is not a particularly skilled verbal communicator.

Consequently, he has apparently learned to make the most of nonverbal communication skills to augment his spoken words. Whether or not the impression is genuine or contrived to mask his relative lack of substantive knowledge and verbal eloquence, Mr. Bush frequently uses hand gestures seemingly intended to convey a high degree of understanding as well as an openness toward the position or attitude of his audience.

In listening to responses from his audience, Mr. Bush tends to nod, but more in a manner that suggests his complete understanding of their position than in a manner communicating his agreement. Mr. Bush also uses his hands extensively while speaking, but appears to lack the ability of other politicians and more highly skilled public speakers to reinforce his spoken words with his physical gestures.

In Mr. Bush's case, the main purpose of his hand gestures seems to be distraction from his relative inability to transition from one idea to another without consulting his written notes and bullet points. Similarly, Mr. Bush often pauses while speaking, even between successive sentences on a single point. It seems that Mr. Bush hopes that his pauses will convey a degree of thoughtfulness or complexity in reasoning, but many times, these gestures are completely inconsistent with the words that follow, because their substantive content makes clear that they should follow directly from the sentence immediately preceding them rather than concepts that require additional thought or reflection in-between them.

Dennis Miller:

Comedic satirist and talk show host Dennis Miller seems to have mastered the art of nonverbal communication, particularly in his use of facial expressions to help contextualize some of his comedic observations. Mr. Miller has incorporated the controlled, coordinated use of his eyebrows to underscore his comedic punch lines. In other instances, he employs his eyebrow movement to help sell the comedic premise that sets up his punch lines.

Likewise, Mr. Miller also uses his grin, both to maximize the comedic effect of his jokes as well as to help him build up the audience's response that he hopes to elicit through his humor. In this respect, Mr. Miller's use of facial cues consistent with humor in advance of delivering his punch lines the same way experienced leaders addressing followers and lawyers appealing to juries attempt to inspire agreement by nodding, as though in agreement with their own words.

Mr. Miller also uses physical gestures such as putting his hands in his pockets while pacing and looking at the floor between his points, as though to suggest the innocence of complete spontaneity, even when delivering monologues and soliloquies that are, in reality, carefully scripted and rehearsed in advance.

Jay Leno:

Comedian and talk show host Jay Leno employs some of the same nonverbal techniques as Dennis Miller in principle, but his specific techniques are uniquely his own.

Mr. Leno use his eyebrows to punctuate his humor, but he relies more on his own purposeful laughter inserted strategically where it assists his comedic timing.

Mr. Leno uses mannerisms of transitioning from one topic to another that seem designed to suggest that his choice of topic is spontaneous rather than choreographed or rehearsed in advance. He looks down at the floor and looks back up in a manner that is coordinated with his comedy routine to convey the impression that his succession of conversational topics is unrehearsed as though his ideas are occurring to him completely spontaneously. Mr. Leno has also mastered the art of using his body postures and hand gestures to mirror the reaction he hopes to develop in his audience. For example, when he tells a joke that relates to someone's indignation or pomposity, Mr. Leno coordinates gestures like placing his hands on his hips with his elbows extended to the sides in an exaggeration of the universally recognized posture denoting moral superiority or indignation.

Finally, Mr. Leno also incorporates his own purposeful audible laughter as well as facial expressions designed to communicate his own amusement at his humor. In some respects, this appears to be a genuine response on his part; in other respects, it may reflect contrived (or, at least rehearsed) laughter. Either way, it seems to be effective at underscoring his humor and inspiring the response to his humor that he seeks from his audiences.

Bill Clinton:

Former president Bill Clinton has always been considered a polished public speaker.

His height and relatively large frame contribute to his ability to establish a dominant presence and elements of his relational style also complement this attribute. Like most public speakers and politicians, Mr. Clinton uses written notes and bullet points to structure his pre-planned delivery. Unlike less polished public speakers, and President Bush, in particular, Mr. Clinton is very skilled at timing his glances at his notes to minimize the appearance of relying on them.

First, Mr. Clinton avoids relying on his notes within a specific point, which reinforces the impression that his words come directly from his thoughts in real time. Mr. Clinton tends to consult his notes only in-between successive points. Second, Mr. Clinton also seems to delay his note consultation momentarily by initiating eye contact with his audience after concluding each point instead of glancing down immediately upon concluding each point in the manner of President Bush, who tends to look to his notes immediately after finishing a sentence.

Mr. Clinton also employs some of the same non-verbal strategies as many comedians, whether by smiling, frowning, or adopting a stern facial expression that mirrors the reaction he hopes to elicit from his audience. Finally, Mr. Clinton also uses hand gestures, a memorable example of which was his emphasizing his (deceitful) adamant denial of his illicit sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Mr. Clinton used hand gestures very forcefully, but unlike intentionally confrontational speakers, Mr. Clinton tends to avoid directing his forceful hand gestures at any specific individual, preferring gestures that emphasize his position rather than his response to opponents.

Bill O'Reilly:

Talk show host Bill O'Reilly is known for his confrontational style of interview. His height (6' 5") contributes to his ability to manipulate the direction of interviews, because it assists him dominate more easily intimidated adversaries.

Mr. O'Reilly tends to interrupt his guests frequently and he uses his hands very deliberately to enable him to do so. Often, he holds up the palm of his hand toward his guest in the gesture that Americans associate with the notion of "stop" either simultaneous with his verbal interruption or in a manner intended to enable him to interject his verbal response before the guest has finished his point, or sometimes, even before the guest has had the opportunity to complete a sentence.

Mr. O'Reilly also uses his facial expressions to convey extreme disagreement with his guests' positions by manifesting the classic expressions of disgust that mimic the universal human response to offensive odors when he strongly disagrees with a statement or opinion. Similarly, Mr. O'Reilly uses his body posture, even while seated, to reinforce his extreme degree of disagreement by turning away from his guests or pushing himself back from the table as an exaggerated symbolic gesture of rejection.

Finally, whereas Mr. Clinton uses his hands to express his position with respect to an ic, Mr. O'Reilly uses his hands much more confrontationally, pointing directly at his guests instead of more generally to reinforce his own position. In most cases, these techniques, combined with his imposing physical stature succeed in Mr. O'Reilly's intended domination of his adversaries. One notable exception occurred a few years ago in his interview of comedic political satirist Al Franken who refused to be interrupted or intimidated by Mr. O'Reilly's tactics.

David Letterman:

Comedic talk show host David Letterman is a master of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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