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Carol Kinsey Goman
Leadership consultant

Carol Kinsey Goman

Carol Kinsey Goman is an executive coach, author and keynote speaker. Her latest book, The Nonverbal Advantage, will be followed by "The Silent Language of Leaders," to be published in April by Jossey-Bass.


Question: From a leadership perspective--moving the country and the political process away from division and gridlock and toward consensus, confidence and action--how would you grade President Obama's State of the Union speech?

I know that most panelists will be commenting on the substance of President Obama's remarks, but as an executive coach with expertise in nonverbal communication, here is my rating for the president's body language during the State of the Union.

I give him an "A-" for the following reasons:

• He had fluidity of motion. From the time he entered the room until he was off camera, his gait, arm movements and hand gestures looked natural and flowing.

• He was animated. His facial expression, hand gestures, vocal tone, energy and pitch were varied--and escalated effectively on those points where he showed passion.

• He kept his fingers loosely interlaced in front of him and his elbows out (instead of held tightly to his body) which is indicative of someone who is not defensive and more likely to be open and forthcoming.

• His smile almost always reached his eyes. That is, when he smiled the crows feet at the corners of his eyes deepened--which is the mark of a genuine, or "zygomatic," smile. This is also the expression that the human brain prefers and responds to most favorably.

Two items detracted:

• He tightened his mouth (pressing his lips together) at the end of some sentences. Although this lip compression is an habitual gesture for the president, it can also indicate tension or something being held back.

• He pointed his index finger several times during the speech. This gesture is almost always viewed as a "scolding" signal, and rarely judged positively by an audience.

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By Carol Kinsey Goman

 |  January 26, 2011; 9:33 AM ET
Category:  Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Obama’s SOTU scores at eighth grade reading level:

According to Smart Politics’ analysis, President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union speech received the second lowest Flesch-Kincaid SOTU grade level score since FDR.

A Smart Politics analysis of 69 orally delivered State of the Union Addresses since the mid-1930s finds the text of Obama's speech to have notched the second lowest score on the Flesch-Kincaid readability test recorded by a U.S. President.

He's Sooooo Smart...

LOL !!!

Posted by: ChangeWhat | January 27, 2011 2:52 PM
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Thanks Ms. Goman. I appreciate your unique perspective on this.

Posted by: Luna2004 | January 26, 2011 2:19 PM
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