Body Language: The Ultimate “Tell”

Fred Smith, Founder/Chairman/CEO

First, let me preface this post to say I’ve interviewed Fred Smith before. He’s engaging, open and interesting. Indeed, his picture above indicates accessibility.

But body language can easily disguise your true feelings. On the other hand, it also can—and often does—betray a person and reveal your true feelings.

In this recent CNBC interview, Smith’s facial expressions take you through a series of emotions, although his immediate expression leaves an impression I suspect he did not intend.

The Set Up


The anchor is establishing the context for the interview. Fred Smith has a look of concern, perhaps even some slight dread. However, he’s been interviewed many times and I doubt he feels either concern or dread. This just might be his way of concentrating on the camera and what he’s hearing in his ear via an IFB.

The Introduction
Now he’s formally introduced and his face softens into a controlled smile. He looks more comfortable and as a viewer, you probably feel more comfortable, as well, albeit subconsciously.
The Question
Smith is engaged as he hears and processes a question. His comfort level is even higher as he’s being asked for his considerable knowledge and expertise.
The Response
Smith’s facial muscles are relaxed. He’s in his sweet spot talking, perhaps, about one of his favorite topics, tax cuts, as indicated on the screen.
The Goodbye
This smile seems more comfortable and natural than his first one when he was being introduced. No doubt there was a sense of relief. TV interviews can be stressful, especially from remote locations where you must relate strictly to a camera.
Smith’s very first expression when the director punched up the camera to put him on-screen was off-setting. My original impression was that he looked angry. But, again, I know from my own experience interviewing him that probably wasn’t the case.
The takeaway here: rehearse all types of interviews with a camera so you know how your body language (non-verbals) is either validating or invalidating your messaging.

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