Opposing a pose

Amid the explosive political developments this week surrounding the House of Commons’ vote to rule out a no-deal Brexit, one image above all lingers in the mind: that of Jacob Rees-Mogg lounging languidly on the Conservative front bench during a crucial debate.

Lambasted and mocked by Opposition MPs, in the media, and online, for embodying arrogance, entitlement and contempt of Parliament, the image went viral and sparked a host of memes. In some of the more memorable ones, Rees-Mogg was Photoshopped onto graphs showing the decline of the Conservative Party’s parliamentary majority and fall in the Sterling/dollar exchange rate, pictured wearing a nightcap and clutching a Teddy bear, and featured in an advertisement for a new Ikea ‘Mögg’ sofa. 

This reaction to the Leader of the House of Commons’ supine pose highlights the impact – and importance – of body language. 

In an oft-quoted study, Albert Mehrabian determined that body language (including posture, gestures, eye contact and facial expression) contributes to 55% of the communication of a message, followed by tone of voice (pitch, inflection etc) at 38%, with words themselves representing just 7%. Another study, by Ray Birdwhistell, found that the non-verbal component of a face-to-face conversation is more than 65%. 

While these figures are subject to debate, it is clear that mastering non-verbal communication – whether in a media interview, meeting or simply in everyday conversation – is critical. 

Body language is a powerful communications tool: when aligned with your words and vocal delivery, it will reinforce your message to your audience(s). But if it conflicts with what you say, it will undermine your argument and call your credibility into question. 

At Bell Yard we will help you to develop not just your strategy and content, but crucially, to practise its delivery too. 

We understand that it’s not just what you say, important as this is, but also how you say it. 

5 September 2019

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