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Body language to play big role in presidential debate

Published On: Oct 02 2012 08:00:00 PM EDT   Updated On: Oct 03 2012 06:06:35 PM EDT

Body language to play big role in presidential debate


Both President Obama and Mitt Romney's camps have been trying to downplay who will win the first presidential debate to lower expectations. But some experts say it's not the candidates' message that matters as much as their body language.

We see it every day. Gestures, postures and facial expressions. Our body language conveys powerful messages to people.

Penn State Lehigh Valley Associate Professor of Communications, Nichola Gutgold, said the same holds true during presidential debates.

"Image is more important than ever, and although it's paramount to have an informed electorate, our electorate is getting its information based on images in these elections."

Gutgold said how Obama and Romney stand, talk, make eye contact, listen and answer all matters.

"I think voters are going to be looking for the person who looks most comfortable, most authoritative," she explained. "And someone who looks as though they're ready to lead the country."

According to experts, body language has a huge influence on voters looking to reinforce their choice for president and may have a bigger impact than what's actually being said. So a lot is riding on Obama and Romney's performances.

"I think sometimes our president has a tendency to look impatient with someone that he's communicating with and I think he needs to guard against looking a little upset in his facial gestures," said Gutgold.

She adds Romney needs to make sure he doesn't come off as mean or angry.

"He has to be careful to look like the kindly elder statesman and so he should be careful about his body language with respect to those things."