use of nonverbal means of communication in business presentations

Sabīne Jurevica
Matriculation card No. 12015
Adviser: lect. Vineta Apse
RĪGA 2016
Šī bakalaura tēma ir neverbālā komunikācija, precīzāk, tādi kinēzikas aspekti kā žesti, ķermeņa
pozīcijas un sejas izteiksmes. Šie neverbālās komunikācijas elementi ir analizēti trīs lietišķajās
prezentācijās. Žesti, pozīcijas un sejas izteiksmes ir uzskaitītas kopā ar to nozīmi. Saistība starp
tiem un pārliecināšanas efektu arī tikusi analizēta. Pētījuma mērķis bija uzzināt kādi žesti,
pozīcijas un sejas izteiksmes tikušas uzmantotas prezentācijās un vai tiem ir saistība ar
pārliecināšanu. Pielietotā pētījuma metode ir gadījuma izpēte. Pēc analīzes veikšanas var secināt,
ka visbiežāk lietotais kinēzikas elements TESLA automobiļa prezentācijās ir žesti. Žesti,
ķermeņa pozīcijas, un sejas izteiksmes rada pārliecināšanas efektu.
Atslēgvārdi: neverbālā komunikācija, kinēzika, žesti, pozīcijas, sejas izteiksmes,
lietišķās prezentācijas
The current Bachelor’s Thesis is on the topic of nonverbal communication, in particular, such
aspects of kinesics as gestures, postures, and facial expressions. The previously mentioned
elements of nonverbal communication are analysed in three business presentations. Gestures,
postures, and facial expressions are listed with their meaning. The connection between them and
the persuasiveness of the speech has been discussed. The purpose of the research was to find out
the gestures, postures, and facial expressions used in the business presentations and discuss their
persuasiveness. The applied research method is a case study. After the research it can be
concluded that the most commonly used kinesic element in TESLA car presentations is gestures.
Gestures, postures, and facial expressions contribute to the persuasiveness of the presentations.
Key words: nonverbal communication, kinesics, gestures, postures, facial expressions, business
1.1. Characteristics of electric car industry…………………………………………......3
1.2. Business presentations and nonverbal communication …………………………….4
1.3. Characteristics of nonverbal communication……………………………………....5
1.4. Characteristics of kinesics………………………………………………………….8
1.4.1. Characteristics of gestures…………………………………………………......9
1.4.2. Characteristics of posture……………………………………………………14.
1.4.3. Characteristics of facial expressions…………………………………………17
2.1. Outlining the research methodology and materials…………………………….....21
2.2. Findings of the analysis of TESLA car presentation……………………………..23
2.2.1. The analysis of gestures………………………………………………………23
2.2.2. The analysis of postures……………………………………………………...33
2.2.3. The analysis of facial expressions…………………………………………… 38
The present research is on the topic of nonverbal communication (NVC), in particular, kinesics
and such aspects of kinesics as gestures, postures, and facial expressions. They are analysed in
business speeches - presentations. Business speeches play a key role in the success of a business,
especially the presentations where a new product is launched and introduced to the world.
Therefore, it is of high importance to have a successful and well thought through and well
rehearsed presentation. Not only the verbal, but also the nonverbal aspects of a presentation have
to be considered when preparing and delivering a speech. The speech has to be persuasive as
well as convincing for it to stand out and make the buyers believe the new product and have a
desire to purchase it.
The aim of this research is to discover what gestures, postures, and facial expressions are
used most in business presentations and whether or not they contribute to the persuasiveness of
the presentation.
The research questions of this paper are:
What gestures, postures, and facial expressions are displayed in new car presentations?
What is the purpose and meaning of the gestures, postures, and facial expressions used?
Which of the following kinesic elements appear most in new car presentations: gestures,
posture, or facial expressions?
The following enabling objectives have been set for this work:
to read and analyse the theory available on the research subject,
to find, select and analyze product presentations applying the analysed theory,
to draw conclusions according to the empirical findings.
The research methods of the paper are:
a summative analysis of published sources on the subject matter,
a case study.
The previously mentioned nonverbal elements - gestures, postures, and facial expressions
are analysed in three business presentations regarding TESLA electric automobiles. In the
practical part of the research three different automobile launch presentations ares elected.
The data collection techniques include desk research for the literature review and
manual research for the empirical analysis.
The research paper consists of two chapters as well as the introduction, conclusion,
theses, and references. Chapter 1 outlines such topics as electric car industry, business speeches
and the target audience, nonverbal communication, and kinesics, in particular, gestures, postures,
and facial expressions. The authors that have been used for this research are Andersen, Calero,
Ekman, Jandt, Knapp and Hall, Lyle, Matsumoto, Frank, and Hwang, Megrabian, Navarro,
O`Shaughnessy, Poyatos, Peleckis, Peleckiene, Riggio, Feldman, Seiler, Beall, Tellis, Verderber,
and Sellnow. Chapter 2 starts with outlining the research method, procedure, materials, and
attempts to find out if the theory can be applied in real life to different examples of business
presentations, where gestures, postures, and facial expressions are analyzed.
The present chapter outlines the topics of the literature review of this research paper. It includes
seven subchapters, after which the empirical research is presented. The section about the electric
car industry tis included in this paper because electric cars represent the field from which
business presentations are selected and analysed. The chapter highlights the reasons behind the
reemergence of the industry as well as the current tendencies in terms of numbers and countries.
The next subchapter is on business presentations. It outlines the nonverbal aspect of business
presentations and the fact that the importance of nonverbal communication in these presentations
has changed for the better over the years. The following subchapters describe definitions,
functions and advantages of nonverbal communication, provide information about kinesics; and
the three kinesic elements that are analysed in the present research: gestures, postures, and facial
1.1. Characteristics of electric car industry
As the present research analyses nonverbal communication in promotional presentations of
electric cars, chapter 1.1. deals with the characteristics of electric car industry. According to the
Salem Press Encyclopedia of Science, electric cars have been around since about the beginning
of the 20th century (2012: 6). Scientists also admit that the necessary technology and parts were
present long before they were all put together in an electric car (ibid.).
The characteristics of the modern electric cars are that they have an electric motor, which
‘converts electric energy into motion by using magnets’ and the electric power is provided by
batteries.Some of the advantages as well as reasons for the use of electrical cars nowadays are,
‘no smell’, ‘no vibration’ and ‘quiet’, ‘did not need gear changes’ as well as, ‘the torque
exhibited by an electric engine is superior to the torque generated by an equivalent internal
combustion engine’ (ibid.).
The same source mentions that the reason behind the reemerging of electric cars is the
stricter emission standards for cars, which were set in the 20th century. In addition, as a result of
the 2009 financial crisis the car industry was also damaged; therefore, the manufacturers had to
come up with solutions for cars that people could afford and which would be more efficient and
beneficial in the long term. According to a 2013 study in Global EV Outlook, in particular,
‘Understanding the Electical Vehicle Landscape to 2020’ the greatest number of electric vehicles
is in the United States - 38 per cent, then comes Japan with 24 per cent and Germany with 11%
out of all the electric cars in the world (2013: 38). The same magazine defines battery electric
vehicles as, ‘all-electric vehicle propelled by an electric motor powered by energy stored in an
on-board battery’ and electric vehicles as, ‘a general term used to describe any car that uses a
power source to drive an electric motor for propulsion’ (ibid.). At the same time, all of the
electric vehicles in the world represent only 0.02% of the total number of passenger cars (does
not include buses, motorcycles and heavy - duty vehicles); however, the numbers are expected to
grow in the nearest future (ibid.). Another advantage of choosing an electric car is the fact that
they are becoming cheaper every year, for instance, the price of the battery has decreased by
more than a half of its price in the last four years. The magazine states that ‘ battery costs based
on development efforts have gone from USD 1,000 per kilowatt hour (kWh) in 2008 to USD
485/kWh of usable energy at the end of 2012’ (2013: 17).
To conclude, the opportunity to create an electric car has been around for years, however,
the industry has only recently reemerged due to the new emission standards and global financial
crisis. The largest number of electric cars can be found in the USA, Japan, and Germany;
however, the total number of electric cars represents only 0.02% of all the passenger cars in the
world. The numbers are predicted to grow, since the industry develops rapidly. This means that
more people will be interested in purchasing electric cars and the new models will be presented
to consumers, thus the need for appropriate nonverbal communication at the new car
presentations to persuade the consumers will also increase.
1.2. Business presentations and nonverbal communication
This subchapter describes the importance of nonverbal communication in business speeches as
well as the target audience for the business presentations analyzed in the present research.
First of all, a definition of the meaning of a presentation will be given. In Merriam-Webster
online dictionary, a business speech is defined as ‘an activity in which someone shows,
describes, or explains something to a group of people’ (Online 1). The Cambridge online
dictionary give presentation definition this way ‘a talk giving information about something’
(online 2). A talk can also be called a speech and it is also self-explanatory that a presentation
includes a speech; therefore, throughout the present paper the terms presentation and speech are
used interchangeably.
Matsumoto, Frank, and Hwang, note the importance of the way people deliver messages
nowadays, especially in public speaking as opposed to the past by saying that ‘[..] there is now as
much focus on how the candidate delivers a message as the message he or she delivers’ (2013:
9). Andersen also agrees about the importance of the way a message is delivered by highlighting
illustrators (2004: 84). Illustrators are mainly hand movements and they accompany speech and
do not differ from culture to culture (Andersen 2004: 81). He has observed that competent
speakers always use many illustrators; they help to communicate strength, enthusiasm,
confidence as well as competence (ibid.). Illustrators also provide the opportunity to coordinate
body movement with the spoken message (ibid.). Other authors, such as, O`Shaughnessy and
O`Shaughnessy, also speak about the importance of establishing a relationship with the audience,
being able to reach the target audience better and the role persuasiveness takes in this task (2004:
3). They say that it is a ‘necessary condition for success’ and that ‘much depends on the
persuasiveness of what is conveyed’ (ibid.).
As to the importance of the connection and interaction between the target
audience and the topic of the speech, Andersen puts it this way ‘context is vital for
understanding all messages, but especially body language. Body language must always
be interpreted in the culture, period, climate, environment, setting, situation, mood, and
relationship that provide the context and tell us how to ‘take’ the message’ (2004: 11).
From this it is clear that in order to read the nonverbal messages better, the target
audience also has to be known and studied, since it is one of the elements that influences
the nonverbal communication (NVC). Andersen states that ‘messages are meaningful
only in context and messages provide context for other messages’ (ibid.). However, he
also points out that no matter what is being sold or advertised, ‘with a twist or two’, the
same methods and processes apply (2004: 298). The target audience in this case is
basically all people with a buyer capacity. In case of the present research, those could be
males and people who are eco lifestyle oriented, since the products that are presented are
electric and do not require oil.
In the IUP Journal of Soft Skills, Rane writes that effective use of body language
is vital for the success of individuals and organizations. He also mentions that ‘the
manner in which the messages are conveyed has a great influence on its effectiveness,
many times, it carries more weightage than verbal communication’ (2010: 23). He points
out that one's appearance is relevant and can show the degree to which the speaker is
involved and the importance he or she attaches to the occasion (2010: 22). He also states
that ‘the business related message has to make a positive impression on the minds of
receivers, which largely depends on the general appearance of a person who is conveying
the message’ (2010:23).
1.3. Characteristics of nonverbal communication
For the purpose of understanding the research topic better, a thorough explanation of the
concept of nonverbal communication is given further in the paper. All of the attributes
and actions of a source that are not verbal are considered to be nonverbal communication
(Jandt n.d: 103). According to Seiler and Beall, all of these attributes and actions
communicate messages with a certain social meaning and all of them can supplement
words in a different way, for instance, with the tone of voice (2010: 112). They also
assert the fact that one cannot exist without communicating something; a person is
always communicating something, for example, with the eyes, the sitting posture, a frown
or a smile. Even when one would think he or she is not communicating anything, simply
standing with a blank expression, that blank expression is also communicating
something. They point out that ‘Sometimes, what is said is less important than what is not
said’ (2010: 113). In other words, people cannot escape from nonverbal communication.
‘Body language’ is well described by such authors as Matsumoto, Frank, and
Hwang, who state that it is ‘the transfer and exchange of messages in any and all
modalities that do not involve words’ (2013: 4). They also point out that nonverbal
communication is visible through nonverbal behaviours, which appear during
communication and do not include words or sounds (ibid.). What is more, the same
authors highlight the difference between their and other definitions of nonverbal
behavior. They argue that nonverbal communication is visible through much more than
only body language, that is, starting from interior design, the lighting and colour as well
as the bumper stickers people put on their cars to the way people make use of their time
as well as their physical characteristics and appearance. NVC can sometimes be difficult
to understand, since one behaviour might include various possible explanations and
meanings. They say that ‘Unlike words, nonverbal cues lack dictionary definitions’
(2010: 135). Therefore, NVC can add not only positive connotation to the verbal
message, but also a negative one.
Furthermore, another author Andersen, speaks about body language as, ‘[..] a
misnomer, an oxymoron’ and believes that it consists of images, behaviours, and
expressions that do not have a definition in any dictionary (2004: 3). In his point of view
it is also clear that NVC ‘communicates louder, longer, and larger than words’ (ibid.). He
even argues that NVC, ‘[..] might be more powerful than language itself’ (2004:3). In his
point of view communication is something beyond symbols and words, it also includes
signals, signs, and symptoms (2004: 4). Andersen also claims that body language is not a
language, since all languages use special codes that are secret and known only to the ones
who know and practice the specific language, but body language is known, felt, and
understood by everybody around the world. He goes on by explaining that, on the
contrary, bony language is accessible to everyone equally and everybody has a chance to
interpret it, but at the same time no interpretation is entirely correct. In brief, the way to
understand body language is to, ‘look for patterns, not symbols’ and understand that
NVC is, ‘based on images, analogs, and icons that are abbreviations of other behaviours’
(2004: 5). The author points out an interesting fact about intentional and unintentional
body language by saying that nobody actually can know which NVC is intentional and
which is unintentional; therefore, by studying only intentional communication many vital
and meaningful things are excluded (2004: 9). As regards unintentional NVC, Andersen
writes about the reason behind people believing NVC more even when it contradicts the
spoken words. He believes that the reason lies in the nature of the body language,
because it is, a lot of times, spontaneous and redundant, it is difficult to completely fake
(2004: 14). As regards redundant body language, the author points out that even if it
might seem like that with other things, redundant body language is not annoying, in fact,
it is helpful and appreciated (2004: 15 - 16). The author asserts that ‘Body language is a
multichanneled form of communication’ and ‘Among the many channels are voice, facial
expressions, gestures, and touch’ (2004: 14).
Another author, Mehrabian, also agrees that nonverbal behaviour is compiled of
facial expressions, hand and arm movements, positions, postures, and different movement
of the legs and feet (1972: 1). He states that ‘in its narrow and more accurate sense,
‘nonverbal behaviour’ refers to actions as distinct from speech’ (ibid.).
In addition, Rane indicates that nonverbal behaviour is a tool for the purpose of
creating a more effective communication, it enhances the strength of communication,
makes impressions about ones personality and it can depict the seriousness of a messsage
(2010: 18). He especially points out that gestures and facial expressions make a crucial
contribution to establishing good communication (ibid.). The author claims that as much
as up to 93 per cent of all communication is non-verbal, which is comprised of 55% of
body movements and 38% of vocal tone, the rest - 7% is dedicated to the verbal message
(2010: 17).
Navarro also refers to nonverbal communication as body language in his book
‘What Every BODY Is Saying?’, where he states that NVC is,
a means of transmitting information - just like the spoken word - except it is achieved
through facial expressions, gestures, touching (haptics), physical movements (kinesics),
posture, body adornment (clothes, jewelry, hairstyle, tattoos, etc.), and even the tone,
timbre, and volume of an individual’s voice (rather than spoken content) (2007: 3 - 4).
From his point of view nonverbal behaviour constitutes approximately 60 to 65 per cent
of all communication.
To summarize, nonverbal communication can supplement verbal messages both
in a positive and in a negative way. There is a unified code for nonverbal language;
therefore, everybody has an equal opportunity to access and interpret it. Body language
can be either intentional or unintentional. There exist multiple channels body language is
expressed through, for instance, gestures, voice, facial expressions, and touch. One
always communicates something. Whether it is with a laid back sitting position, blank
facial expression, or the attempt to express indifference, it always means something.
Even if the person tries to express nothing, it is not possible. Nonverbal communication
has several channels through which it is expressed and can be seen. One of them is
kinesics. As Merriam-Webster dictionary explains, kinesics is ‘a systematic study of the
relationship between nonlinguistic body motions (as blushes, shrugs, or eye movement)
and communication’ (online 3.).
1.4. Characteristics of kinesics
The basis of the present research lies in kinesics; therefore, a clear explanation of the
term will be provided. As F. Poyatos explains that kinesics is
conscious and unconscious psychomuscularly-based body movements and intervening
or resulting still positions, either learned or somatogenic, of visual, visual-acoustic
and tactile and kinesthetic perception, which, whether isolated or combined with the
linguistic and paralinguistic structures and with other somatic and objectual behavioral
systems, possess intended or unintended communicative value (1990: 185)
In other words, kinesics can be conscious or unconscious and is basically the muscle based
movement of the body, which can be perceived through visual, acoustic tactile as well as
kinesthetic channels. Kinesic can also be either combined or not combined with the linguistic
message structures. Thus, Poyatos states that kinesic can be perceived jointly or individually in
four different ways: visually, kinesthetically, tactually, and audibly (1990: 186 - 187). From
Poyatos point of view, kinesics include postures, gaze movements and direction, hand
movements, chest expansion and contradiction while breathing, the stride and footsteps (1990:
Seiler and Beall say that kinesics is sometimes also called body language and it can be
almost any movement of the body and the face that can communicate a certain message, They
also name the two most significant categories of kinesics, which are eye behaviour and facial
expressions (2010: 122). Jandt believes that kinesics consist of facial expressions, body
movements, gestures, and eye contact. He also states that these body movements can be both
unconscious and conscious (n.d.: 110). In addition, Rane, as all of the other authors, agrees that
‘the study of physical movement of body is also known as kinesics. The body language mainly
includes gestures, postures, eye contact, facial expressions, handshake, etc.’ (2010: 17).
To summarize, kinesics is comprised of gestures, facial expressions, body movements, posture,
gait, trunk and limb movements and, arguably, gaze. These kinesic aspects can be observed
either visually, kinesthetically, audibly, or tactually. They can be both conscious and
unconscious. However, the focus of the present research is on gestures, postures, and facial
1.4.1. Characteristics of gestures
Regarding gestural frequency, it is clear that more and more gestures appear when a person is
interacting with someone else. It can be a dialogue or a monologue. As Andersen indicates that
there exist two types of gestures - emblems and illustrators and they have a few differences.
According to Andersen, emblems are the ones that have a dictionary meaning, and he calls them
‘close cousins of sign language’ (2004: 81). There is a scientific explanation for the similarity
between emblems and sign language - they are both processed by the same part of the brain - the
left hemisphere (ibid.). Another difference between emblems and illustrators is that emblems are
different in different cultures (ibid.). As to illustrators, they accompany speech and they do not
differ from culture to culture. Andersen points out the reason why illustrators are so important in
one's speech, ‘these gestures are essential to getting your point across, but they also help you
synchronize your body language with other people and with other aspects of your own body
language’ (2004: 83). It is clear from the citation that illustrators contribute to the cohesiveness
of a person's speech and help the listeners understand the speech better as well as help the
speakers synchronize their own body language with other people's body language.
From the point of view of Matsumoto, Frank, and Hwang, gestures are mainly hand movements,
they either act as speech illustrators or they can also help the speaker convey the verbal meaning
(2013: 75). The previously mentioned authors also characterize gestures as, ‘[..] movements that
express some kind of thought or the process of thinking’ (ibid.). They as well distinguish
between illustrators and emblems. For them, emblems are movements that have verbal meaning
(ibid.). Illustrators are characterized by being tied directly to the speech and the main function is
to both highlight and illustrate the speaker's utterance (2013: 76). They even elaborate on this by
saying that ‘[..] all speech illustrators are associated with verbal behaviour on a moment-tomoment basis and are directly tied to speech content, verbal meaning, and voice volume, they
likely occur outside of or with minimal conscious awareness and intention’ (2013: 77).
Mehrabian, also agrees that there are two main types of gestures - emblems and illustrators. He
defines emblems as, ‘the small class of nonverbal acts that can be accurately translated into
words’; he even gives an example - ‘a handshake, shaking a fist at someone, a smile, a frown’
(1972: 3). As to illustrators, the author states that the main function for them is to emphasize and
the emphasis mostly occurs with hand movements (ibid.). However, the author also
acknowledges such gesture categories as affect displays, regulators, and adapters. He states that
affect displays are the displaying of emotions, for instance, happiness, anger, sadness, fear,
interest, and surprise. Regulators, ‘[..] refer to acts that help to initiate and terminate the speech
of participants in a social situation’ (ibid.). And the last category - adapters refer to , ‘[..] the acts
that are related to the satisfaction of bodily needs and, such as moving into a more comfortable
position, or scratching’ (ibid.). However, the main focus of the present research is put on
illustrators, since they are the ones that contribute the most in terms of accompanying the speech
and helping both the speaker and the listener interact better.
Knapp and Hall write about nonverbal communication and gestures in particular. They
say that gestures are mainly hand and arm movements (2010: 223). In their book ‘Nonverbal
behaviour in human interaction’ they also list the many functions gestures may have, for
example, ‘[..] regulate the flow of rhythm of interaction, maintain attention, add emphasis or
clarity of speech, help characterize and make more memorable the content of the speech, act as
forecasters of forthcoming speech, and hep speakers access and formulate speech’ (ibid.: 224).
As opposed to the previous authors who acknowledge illustrators and emblems, Knapp and Hall
distinguish between speech related, referent related, punctuation, interactive gestures, and the
ones that indicate the relationship between the speaker and the referent. From their point of view,
speech related gestures can also be called illustrators (ibid.: 234-237).
The essence of the present research lies in the discussion of such gesture type as the
illustrator. As it was explained, an illustrator accompanies speech, does not have a dictionary
translation and does not usually differ from culture to culture. First of all, the positioning of the
palm can show a lot about the speaker's attitude. According to Knapp and Hall, there exist
different ways a person's palm can be positioned. Those include, up, down, facing the speaker,
and out and facing the listener. Regarding the meaning of these positions, palms up indicates
uncertainty, as if the person is not sure about what he or she is speaking. Palms down mean
certainty as if the topic is absolutely clear for the speaker, palms facing the speaker show that the
speaker is embracing a concept, and palms out and facing the listener show assertion (ibid: 235).
Other meanings of palm up gesture include, ‘pleading, begging, or even anticipating closeness’
(ibid.). The authors also point out that ‘oscillating hand movements suggest a speaker is unsure
or could go either way’ (Knapp and Hall, 2010: 236).
In fact, there exist many other hand movements, for instance, ‘gestures that draw the
referent`s shape or movement’, which might help the listener visualise different features of the
speech content and a gesture also, ‘bears a close relationship to the concrete semantic content of
your speech’ (ibid.: 235). A referent-related gesture can also be the depiction of the shape of
something that is being talked about in the air with one's hands (ibid.). Andersen calls these
movements pictographs (2004: 85). He mentions them as, ‘movements that draw a shape or an
object in the air’ and that they are, ‘spontaneous gestures that literally paint a gestural picture for
listener’ (ibid.). Their purpose is to complement verbal streams, expand their accuracy as well as
provide additional meaning (ibid.). A similar type of gesture according to Andersen`s distinction
is the ideograph, where the particular gesture sketches an idea (2004: 84). A speaker might also
imitate an accordion player, which helps to show the breadth of the topic of discussion (Knapp
and Hall: 2010: 236). The speaker might try to show or basically characterize the path, direction
or sketch of an idea that is being talked about, he or she might, ‘make a series of circular
movements with the hand or arm’ or make ‘expansion and contraction gestures’ (ibid.). There are
also, ‘cup shaped gestures’, which ‘represent containers of what could be supposed ‘ (ibid.). The
authors elaborate on the idea by stating that ‘when they spread apart, they seem to convey the
idea that anything is possible, and their sudden disappearance suggests that what might have
been did not happen’ (ibid.). Andersen calls these gestures spatial gestures, which indicate the
distance or size of the thing or idea being talked about (2004: 85).
According to Lyle (1995), one of the most frequent gestures is the steeple. It can, for
example, be raised, then it signifies ‘confidence or certainty of opinion’. There can also be
clenched fists, which are ‘undeniably aggressive and threatening’ (ibid.). In addition, hands
pressed together ‘demonstrates a desire to persuade, or underline a point gently, but firmly’
(ibid.). Also Lyle points out such a gesture as ‘hiding the thumbs inside the fist’, which shows
that the speaker is struggling with the analysis of a problem (ibid.). Then there can also be a
movement when the speaker scratches the head, which indicates ‘perplexity, doubt, and
uncertainty’ (ibid.).
According to Andersen, there exists the so-called baton, a gesture which beats the rhythm
of the speech and keeps the beat of the speech for the audience (2004: 83). Andersen
characterizes this gesture by saying that it is present in almost all conversations and speeches, it
helps them flow. This gestures is used at a moment when the speaker is making an important
point, is in a disagreement with someone or something as well as when speaking about
something exciting (ibid.). According to Andersen's research, the gesture is used most commonly
by public speakers and it occurs together with the words that are accented and stressed the most
(ibid.). The author also emphasizes the power and dynamism the baton brings to a speech. It can
make the speaker look well coordinated, but spontaneous at the same time, which is good;
however, if it the baton is used incorrectly it can make the speaker look weak and even deceptive
(ibid.). Also the author admits that it is quite difficult to ‘put much passion in a speech’ without
the baton (ibid.).
Similarly, Knapp and Hall talk about punctuation gestures, which, like the baton,
emphasize, accent as well as organize important parts of a speech. These important parts of a
speech can, according to Knapp and Hall, be, ‘a single words or a larger utterance unit, such as a
summary or a new theme’ and they might also ‘coincide with the primary voice stress’ (2010:
237). A speaker might also speak about a series of things and use rhythmic chopping when
stating many different points in a row - A, B, C, etc (ibid). Another gesture - ‘pounding the hand
or fist in the air or on another object’ can also be a tool for adding emphasis and as if visually
pointing out a particular idea (ibid.). Punctuation can also be expressed through other parts of the
body, not only hands and arms, but that is not the topic of the present research. Knapp and Hall
also mention interactive gestures; however, they are mainly used in conversations, where, of
course, more than one person is involved; therefore, it is not a speech anymore.
In the IUP Journal of Soft Skills head gestures are also mentioned. It is stated that
‘holding head high is the sign of honor and self-respect, confidence, integrity and interest in the
person(s) before us’ (2010: 21). As regards head positioning that is very high - ‘a head drawn too
far backwards or stiffly held straight up indicates pride or arrogance. Head jerks indicate
disrespect, rejection or agreement, depending on the context and personality of the person
concerned’ (ibid.). On the contrary, - ‘a head bent below, depending on the situation, would
show modesty and politeness’ (ibid.). Also, movement of the head is mentioned ‘nodding the
head sideways or back and forth conveys the intended meaning powerfully than words’ (ibid.).
To summarize, it can be said the almost all of the discussed authors recognize the two
main types of gestures - illustrators and emblems. Emblems are not always speech related, they
have certain dictionary meaning and they differ from culture to culture. Illustrators are speech
related, they help emphasize certain speech segments and highlight the most important parts of a
1.4.2. Characteristics of posture
The current subchapter outlines the definition as well as the characteristics of postures. A variety
of postures is provided together with the meaning.
According to Verderbers and Sellnow, posture is simply the ‘position and movement of
your body’ (2009: 45). They elaborate by explaining that from one's posture other people can
detect the attentiveness, respect, and dominance of this person (ibid.). Posture is an important
detail, similarly to gestures and facial expressions, which has to be take into consideration when
trying to determine the state of mind of an individual. It can tell a lot about a person in such a
situation as new product presentation; therefore, it will be defined and analysed. One can
consider posture on of the most important aspects of NVC to pay attention to, when watching a
business presentation, especially, if there is a large audience in a large hall, because ‘unlike facial
expressions or voice, posture can be observed or sensed from long distance thus it has power to
convey messages to many’ (online 4.). Verderbers and Sellnow continue to explain that the
posture of a person refers to another person's posture. The authors state that ‘if you face another
person squarely, this is called direct body orientation’; however, when people are at an angle to
each other, then there is the so-called ‘indirect orientation’ (2009: 45 - 46). What the direct
posture type shows is respect and attentiveness, on the contrary, the indirect posture type shows
nonattentiveness and disrespect (ibid.). The same authors also assert that ‘uprightstance and
squared shoulders’ help the audience see the speaker as ‘poised and self-confident’ and that is
what they recommend speakers to do during a speech as well as ‘distribute your weight equally
on both feet so that you maintain a confident bearing’ (2009: 46). In addition, ‘if you want to be
persuasive you should use nonverbal cues that demonstrate confidence and credibility. These
may include [..] a relaxed posture’ (2009: 46). Also Matsumoto, Frank, and Hwang distinguish
among different types of postures. They say that there are three attitudes a posture can show,
such as ‘preference (liking versus disliking), orientation (closed or open), and attention (direct or
indirect)’ (2013: 87). They also talk about the shoulder and leg positioning of a speaker in terms
of revealing their attitude ‘[..] the degree to which a person's shoulders and legs are turned in
the direction of rather than away from another interactant - is associated with attitude toward the
interactant, the least direct orientation occurs for disliked interactant while more direct
orientations occur for liked others’ (2013: 88). Also, they mention that if a speaker's head is
tilted to the back, then he or she is happy and comfortable (ibid.). According to Calero, when a
speaker is not confident about the topic of discussion, he or she drops or slumps their shoulders
and vice versa - when a person is sure and confident, he or she becomes attentive and is in an
erect body posture (2005: 73). The same author has done research on poker players, who lie and
cheat and he has observed their techniques of how to disquise information and deceive other.
Calero mentions there might be a situation when a person, who tries to deceive others,
exaggerates his or her position and ‘leans forward in a confrontational way’, where he or she
does the bluff of ‘strong is weak; weak is strong’ (ibid.). Therefore, people cannot always rely on
the erect posture of a speaker in order to determine if he or she is confident about the topic and,
thus, truthful or not. There might be cases when people deliberately try to deceive and convince
the audience. He also writes about situations right before people reveal important information or
will make a compromise ‘when this occurs, people often move the upper torso towards the center
of the table. At times, they even move the chair they are sitting in forward. If they had previously
been sitting towards the back of the chair, their upper torso will move forward and place the
hands on the table’ (2005: 84). This can also be referred to speeches and speakers, where the
speaker may lean forwards or backwards. Knapp and Hall also write about movements that
people make that can be either before or after a speech. They state that
the time between the speech - preparatory body movement and the onset of speech is
apparently related to the size of the impending speech unit, with earlier and more
extensive behaviour, involving more body parts, for larger speech units. A change in
body posture, for instance, might precede a long utterance and might be held for the
duration of the utterance (2010: 244).
From this citation it is clear that in the audience people can already predict what type of
information is coming, the importance of it and how bulky it will be. It is also understandable
that a posture might be held for a certain length of time while the speaker is on the same topic
and then there can be a postural shift and the speaker moves to another topic or part of the
speech. Knapp and Hall point out that there can also be shifts in the posture. They are called
‘gross shifts’, which means that only a part - the upper part - of the body is moved (2010: 244).
This usually occurs when a certain point or a series of issues are discussed (ibid.). After
statements as well as questions, markers with the eyelids, head, and hands may appear (ibid.).
Knapp and Hall refer to such researchers as Bull & Brown, Erickson as well as Scheflen, who
have concluded that ‘postural shifts mark new stages of interaction or topic shifts, particularly at
the beginning or ending of speech segments’ (2010: 244). Another tendency is for the wrists,
forearms, fingers, and upper arms to move with the most frequent intensity during the time a
person speaks (ibid.). In fact, the movement of larger body parts can be connected with larger
speech segments and the other way around (ibid.). There can be cases when the information that
a speaker will give as well as the utterance length, switch in the speaker's viewpoint or the
strategy of the argument can be forecasted by simply observing the body language (ibid.).
Andersen points out a significant feature typical for men, stating that ‘men's bodies are almost
motionless when they walk, especially the hips and torso’ (2004: 92). This means that men do
not move their bodies a lot, especially, while walking, they do not swing their hips like woman
might do. As to men`s feet, when they walk, ‘men walk with their feet nearly a foot apart and
swing their arms significantly’ (ibid.). Here is also a difference between the way men and
women walk. This is important, since the empirical research of the present paper analyzes the
nonverbal behaviour of males. Also, Andersen points out that men tend to swing their arms due
to counterbalancing the legs and preventing the torso from a twist (ibid.). Regarding the way
people stand. He states that there are different positions for it and the most dominant one that
radiate confidence and persuasion is ‘spread-legged and hands on hips, also called the arms
akimbo position’ (2004: 94). He mentions that if the arms are folded while a person is standing,
it is also a dominant position and it can communicate ‘coldness and unapproachability’ (ibid.).
To summarize, posture is visible from a greater distance than other kinesic elements;
therefore, important in large audience presentations. Posture can show a person's attitude and,
according to Matsumoto, Frank, and Hwang can show preference (liking versus disliking),
orientation (closed or open), and attention (direct or indirect) (2013: 87). There are several
postures that represent dominance and power, which are used in settings, where people wish to
persuade and convince others.
1.4.3. Characteristics of facial expressions
The current subchapter elaborates on the meaning and use of facial expressions as well as the
various facial expressions there can be. According to the IUP Journal of Soft Skills, the true
mirror of a person's mind is his or her face, it reflects the thoughts a person has that can be well
recognized in face-to-face communication (2010: 19). The importance of facial expressions is
indeed great ‘without speaking a word, a lot of information can be gathered free of cost by the
receiver of the message’ (2010: 20). Every facial muscle is allegedly an instrument for
communicating something (ibid.). ‘The facial expressions of the individual change depending on
circumstances/occasions’ (2010: 19). It is applicable when people wish to ‘convey different
meanings’ (2010: 20). Verderber, Verderber, and Sellnow see facial expressions as ‘the
arrangement of facial muscles to communicate emotional states or reactions to messages’ (2009:
45). With the face a person conveys the six basic facial expressions ‘happiness, sadness, surprise,
fear, anger, and disgust’ (ibid.). Calero admits that, ‘[..] the face you make when you speak or
listen can tell an observant person more about you that any words you say’ (2005: 63). This is
another approval of the fact that emotions speak louder than words and facial expressions have to
be taken into account in order to understand others better. Also, Riggio and Feldman agree to this
by stating that ‘facial expressions can yield important information about an individual's true
physical or emotional state but are also most subject to distortion’ (2005: 5). In additon, it is
important to mention that ‘the capacity to accurately decode facial expression is an acquired skill
that develops until adolescence’ (2005: 17 - 18).
As Matsumoto, Frank, and Hwang put it, it is vital to understand facial expressions,
because it leads to understanding the emotions people have and greatly contributes to the
following, ‘reading emotion in others [..] can help in any situation involving negotiation,
persuasion, and influence’ (2013: 15 - 16). In addition, Ekman and Friesen point out that ‘facial
expressions of emotion are not easy to control [..] most people manage their facial expressions,
but far from perfectly’ (2003: 135). According to them, it is because facial expressions can
change much faster than words and people might not manage to control them. Also, ‘people are
held more accountable for their words than for their facial expressions’ (ibid.). However, in new
product presentations, people rehearse their speeches and performances and another thought put
forward by Ekman and Friesen can be associated with this, ‘[..] people have learned how to
manage their facial expressions to meet the demands of society, how to control the messages
they give with their face as well as with their words’ (ibid.). This suggests that in new product
promotion speakers still think about the way they present themselves and what messages they
give with their words as well as their body language. They think about the possible reaction from
the listeners, when they speak. The IUP Journal of Soft Skills provides similar information ‘ in
some professions where the facial and body expressions are important, they are consciously
cultivated’ (2010: 20). As it can be observed, among scientists there exist two contrary opinions,
which state that facial expressions can be uncontrollable, due to rapid emotion change, but at the
same time controllable, due to rehearsals and the wish to be confident, powerful and persuade
There can be situations, when people might deliberately deceive others, especially for
their own benefit. One of such situations can be the presentation of a new product, which is the
topic of the present research paper. As Peleckis, Peleckis, and Peleckiene state, ‘when people do
not believe in what they say, they control their facial expressions, limit their movements,
performing other dissociation actions’ (2015: 70). This means that people in business
presentations might also be quite stiff if they are deceiving the audience or simply are not sure
what they are talking about.
Matsumoto, Frank, and Hwang signify the importance of the eyebrow movements during
a speech, when they state that ‘in the face, for instance, we learn to use our brows as speech
illustrators, often raising then when raising our voices or lowering them when lowering our
voices. We can also use our eyebrows to highlight or underline elements of our speech’ (2013:
81). From this it can be understood that a person's eyebrows and their movement can make a
great contribution to the overall speech and act as illustrators to certain points and important
details in a speech. Verderber, Verderber and Sellnow also speak about eyebrow movements and
what those can achieve - ‘[..] a slight raising of the eyebrow to communicate recognition,
wriggling one`s nose, and a disguised facial look to show social repulsion’ (2009: 51). In fact,
Matsumoto, Frank, and Hwang mention the importance of smile and nodding in their research,
where the participants admitted that others, who smiled and nodded more were perceived as
‘more understanding and warm’ (2013: 82). Therefore, such factors as nodding and smiling, are
important in order to achieve greater understanding of information. It is common knowledge that
smiles can be both sincere and genuine as well as faked and forced. Navarro and Karlins explain
the difference between the two types of smiles
a real smile appears primarily because of the action of two muscles [..], when working
together bilaterally, these draw the corners of the mouth up and crinkle the outer edges of
the eyes, causing the crow`s feet of a familiar warm and honest smile. [..] When we exhibit
a social or false smile, the lip corner stretches sideways through the use of a muscle called
the risorius. When used bilaterally, these effectively pull the mouth sideways but cannot
lift them upward, as it is the case with a true smile (2008: 186 - 187).
To put it in other words, a real smile makes the corners of lips go towards the eyes, but a fake
smile draws lip corners to the ears. Andersen claims that smiles also contribute to the
persuasiveness of a message. He states that ‘smiles are simultaneously positive, powerful, and
persuasive [..]’ (2004: 313).
To summarize, facial expressions are the nonverbal behaviour that communicates one's
emotions. They show the six basic human emotions, which are anger, disgust, fear, happiness,
sadness, and surprise (Verderber, Verderber, Sellnow 2009: 45). People, who smile and nod are
perceived as warm and understanding, which leads to a greater possibility of persuasion
(Matsumoto, Frank, and Hwang 2013: 82). Also eyebrow movements are of importance, since
they mark relevant segments of a person's speech and other important information (Matsumoto,
frank, and Hwang 2013: 81).
The current chapter discussed the theoretical background behind this research. It started
with the discussion of business presentations and the electric car industry. Business presentations
are the activities, which show, describe, or explain something to people (Online 1). A
presentation can also be a talk the gives the information about something (Online 2). Since these
business presentations are anaysed in the field of electric cars in this research, the discussion of
electric cars is also included. Electric cars are the solution for dealing with the increasing
emissions. The popularity as well as sale of electric care are growing each year. Afterwards,
there is the discussion of nonverbal communication and kinesics, in particular gestures, postures,
and facial expressions. Gestures are mainly movements with the arms. Postures are expressed
through different body positions and the movement of the body. Facial expressions are evident
through the movement of eyebrows as well as smiling and expressing various emotions. The
previously mentioned nonverbal elements are all analysed in the following empirical research.
The empirical part of the present research analyses the gestures, posture, and facial
expressions of three different product presentations. First, the methodology of the research is
discussed. Second, the gestures together with examples are given and explained. Third, the
postures of the speakers in the business speeches are discussed. And last, the facial expressions
seen in the presentations are explained.
2.1. Outlining the research methodology and materials
The present subchapter discusses the methodology used for the analysis of the empirical
The research has been done in the field of kinesics, where three different car promotion
video-taped presentations have been analysed. The methodology used was a case study.
According to Cambridge dictionary, a case study is ‘a detailed account giving information about
the development of a person, group, or thing, especially in order to show general principles’
(Online 8). Winston Tellis refers to Yin (1994), who gives the four applications a case study can
have. Those are ‘to explain complex causal links in real-life interventions, to describe the reallife context in which the intervention has occurred, to describe the intervention itself, to explore
those situations in which the intervention being evaluated has no clear of outcomes’ (1997). The
present research applies the case study research method. In this case, it explains the causal links
as well as explores the situations. The same author, again referring to Yin (1984) lays out the
steps, which have to be taken in order to analyse a case study. They are the following ‘design the
case study protocol (determine the required skills), conduct the case study, analyze case study
evidence, develop conclusions, recommendations, and implications based on the evidence’
(ibid.). In the present research the required skills have been already determined; thus, it has been
understood that the theoretical knowledge of nonverbal communication is needed for carrying
out of the analysis. The case study has been conducted, which means that there was preparation
for the data collection. It included finding the relevant empirical material as well as stating the
observed kinesic elements. Then the analysis of the observed empirical material was done. The
analysis included providing the meaning for the observed kinesic elements. Afterwards the
conclusions were made.
The case was on Tesla car launch presentations. As to the research materials, there are
three different products and several speakers in the presentations. Since all of the cars are from
the same company, one of the speakers in all of the presentations is the same - the CEO and
product architect of Tesla Motors, Elon Musk. The other people speaking in one of the materials
are different engineers and people, who worked in the TESLA development team. The business
presentations are the launch events of three different car models of the manufacturing company
TESLA. They are Model S, Model X, and Model 3. In all of them the cars are presented for the
first time. The speakers share their experience and emotions they had throughout the
development of the new models. In addition, they explain the new and improved features of the
cars that are presented. They include practical examples by showing the carrying capacity of one
of the cars. They also present the different ways the cars can be parked and later accessed. In two
of the presentations, the development team also gives away a few of the first cars engineered to
some of the people they call out on the stage. The materials analysed can be found at the end of
the paper under the internet sources 5,6, and 7. The company TESLA was chosen, because it is a
bright example of the development of energy efficiency. The author of the present paper supports
the ideas the company puts forward and the future they are trying to build. In fact, in terms of
cars, the company produces only electric automobiles. It also has other eco-friendly and energy
efficient projects, such as, the Powerwall for energy storage. There was not a wide choice of
video-taped materials, where TESLA electric cars are presented, since there are only three cars
that they have up to now. The presentations were found on YouTube and chosen according to the
quality of the video as well as the fact that the whole body of the people speaking could be seen,
2.2. Findings of the analysis of TESLA car presentation
The current subchapter presents the findings of the analysis. It has been divided into three parts the analysis of gestures, the analysis of postures, and the analysis of facial expressions. Each of
the parts, consequently, answers to the first and the second research questions. Each of the parts
state the gestures, postures, and facial expressions present in the analysed product promotions. At
the end of each part the NVC elements have been counted to answer the third research question.
The parts also explain the meaning of these gestures, postures, and facial expressions together
with exemplifications if the form of screenshots.
2.2.1. The analysis of gestures
The current subchapter analyses the gestures exposed in the first empirical material. Gestures are
stated and their meaning is explained with examples in the form of screenshots.
The gestures described in the literature review of the present research paper have been
identified in the empirical material of the research as well; however, not all of them are present.
In the presentations the speakers use many gestures, some once or twice, but some on a regular
basis and throughout the whole presentation. Some of them are used rarely on certain ideas that
are pointed out, but some of them go along the speech and are visible almost at all times. The
raised steeple is one of the most commonly observed hand gestures in the presentations. As it
was discussed in the literature review, this hand gesture shows confidence and certainty of
opinion (Lyle 1995). The gesture can be seen in Figure 2.1.
Figure 2.1. The raised steeple
Another quite frequent group of gestures is the type which simply beats the rhythm of the
speech, either for the purpose of accenting something or being more clear about certain points in
a speech or other reason. This type of gesture includes: rhythmic chopping (Figure 2.2.),
oscillating hand movements, a series of circular movements with the hand or arm (Figures 2.3.
and 2.4.) as well as the so called baton, which is a gesture that beats the rhythm of the speech
(Andersen 2004: 83). All of these are quite similar in their execution. Oscillating hand
movements mean that the speaker ‘is unsure and could go either way’ with the thoughts and
ideas that are expressed (Knapp and Hall 2010: 236). Also the rhythmic chopping helps the
speaker structure the speech with emphasis on certain points as well as helps the audience
receive the information.
Figure 2.2. Rhythmic chopping
Figures 2.3. Circular movements
Figure 2.4. Circular movements II
Expansion and contraction gestures are used to ‘indicate the breadth of the topic’ and
were also used frequently in the observed material (Knapp and Hall: 2010: 236). This gesture can
be found in Figures 2.5. and 2.6. Expansion and contraction gestures are similar to the gesture,
when the speaker is as if imitating an accordion player, which was also visible in the video
Figure 2.5. Expansion gesture
Figure 2.6. Contraction gesture
Cup shaped gestures appear in Figures 2.7. and 2.8. and according to Knapp and Hall,
‘represent containers of what could be supposed ‘, but when they spread apart, ‘they seem to
convey the idea that anything is possible, and their sudden disappearance suggests that what
might have been did not happen’ (ibid.).
Figure 2.7. Cup shaped gesture
Figure 2.8. Cup shaped gesture II
In addition gestures that draw the referents shape were also present in the research
material, for instance, when explaining how something is going to look. For example, ‘the
ideograph’, which sketches an idea, was used, when a speaker was explaining the seating of
children in both back seats of the car, the gesture can be seen in Figure 2.9. Below (Andersen
2004: 84). In addition, the same speaker was talking about the phone holders in the new car and
explaining the way they would look and where they would be located. The gesture is in Figure
2.10. Moreover, another speaker was also depicting a story he was telling about two pills from
which he had an opportunity to take one and he chose the red. He was showing the palms in
which the person who offered him the pills was holding them. The story, of course, was fictional,
the speaker was simple explaining that at one point in life he had two choices and he had made
the right ones, since he and Elon Musk began to develop first Tesla car model. Him showing the
palms can be seen in Figure 2.11.
Figure 2.9. The ideograph
Figure 2.10. Depiction of a shape
Figure 2.11 Depiction of a shape II
As to some other gestures that show persuasiveness and confidence, as well as
domination, there were clenched fists displayed by multiple speakers several times during the
presentations. The clenched fists gesture, according to Lyle, is ‘undeniably aggressive and
threatening’ (1995). The gesture can be found in Figure 2.12. Another speaker in a different
video material was contradicting his words with the gestures ha made. He was displaying the
clenched fists gesture while speaking about the humbleness of the group that worked on the
development and engineering of the car. The gesture collides with the part of the speech, since
the clenched fists gesture does not represent humbleness at all, it indicated aggressiveness and
threats as previously mentioned. The speaker can be seen in figure 2.13. A different speaker
(Figure 2.14.) in the same presentation also displayed the same gesture; however, did not
contradict the speech. At the moment he was announcing that it was time to deliver Model S
Tesla car. This gesture seemed to be appropriate for the words that accompanied it, since the
speaker seemed to be proud of what has been done and invested in the development of the car.
Overall, the clenched fists gesture was present in all of the video materials and was quite visible
and undeniably used on purpose in order to convey the previously mentioned meaning.
Figure 2.12. Clenched fists
Figure 2.13. Clenched fists II
Figure 2.14. Clenched fists III
In addition, Figure 2.15. presents the hands pressed together gestures, which, also
according to Lyle, means that the speaker tries to demonstrate his desire to persuade, or simply
underline a point ‘gently, but firmly’ (1995). Only one of all the speakers, in the presentations
that were analysed, used this gesture. The gesture was used once and at that moment the speaker
was making a joke and probably put his hands together and against the mouth in order not to
laugh. This was not a situation where the speaker might be trying to persuade, deceive or seem
Figure 2.15. Hands pressed together
Figure 2.16. displays a gesture that indicates that the speaker might not be so sure and
confident about the topic of discussion, it also shows perplexity (Lyle 1995). In the figure it can
be seen how the speaker is scratching his head. He was displaying this gesture while announcing
sudden news about the number of cars that were ordered in the last 24 hours. He claimed to have
just found out the fact that the number was 115 000, which might have been a trick to impress
the audience, since the gesture that was displayed right before the statement indicated perplexity
and did not how confidence and certainty of opinion. Another speaker in a different video was
also scratching. In fact, also in that presentation it happened during a statement that seems to
have been told for the impressions and pleasure of the audience,. The speaker said that, from his
point of view, the Model of Tesla that was presented, was probably the best looking car he has
ever seen. This opinion, of course, is quite subjective, but at the same time seemed to convey a
positive effect on the audience, which might have been the reason behind such a statement, The
speaker can be seen in figure 2.17.
Figure 2.16 Scratching the head
Figure 2.17. Scratching the head II
It is possible that a speaker uses the index finger to point at something or someone in the
audience, which, according to Lyle, would be considered dominant as well as show aggression
and authority (1995). However, the speaker in one of the videos, while asking a question to the
audience, was using his whole palm and not only the index finger; therefore, he was not trying to
show power and authority. The gesture the speaker displayed can be seen in Figure 2.18.
Figure 2.18. Pointing with the palm
However multiple speakers in different videos did point with their index finger. This
occurred when one of the speakers was announcing and introducing the next speaker; thus, he
pointed at him, when he came on the stage. It seemed as if it was done in order to make a
friendly and open impression about the Tesla team and the relationships among the team
members. Of course, it is also a sign of dominance and aggression as previously mentioned. The
same speaker, who displayed clenched fists while announcing the launch of the new Tesla, at the
same time pointed towards the audience with the index finger. The gesture can be seen in figure
2.19. 2.20. Figure show another speaker, who was pointing with the index finger towards the
ground while discussing the diligence and the path they took and what they went through as a
team while designing the particular Tesla model. He was holding the index finger towards the
ground almost throughout the whole speech.
Figure 2.19. Pointing with the index finger
Figure 2.20. Pointing with the index finger II
As the IUP Journal of Soft Skills claims, ‘a head bent below, depending on the situation,
would show modesty and politeness’ (2010: 21). The speaker bent his head multiple times
throughout the speech, usually when the crowd was applauding, which conveyed the perception
that the speaker was actually very honored. He never displayed the dominating and power filled
head tilts, such as holding the head high or too much backwards. The gesture can be seen in
figure 2.21. None of the speakers were nodding the head sideways or back and forth, which
could also be one of the possible head movements during a speech, according to the theory.
Figure 2.21. Bent head
And, finally, the four ways a speaker can hold his palms while giving a speech. The
palms up gesture indicates that the speaker is unsure about the topic of discussion (Figure 2.22.),
whereas, on the contrary, the palms down gesture (Figure 2.23.) shows confidence and certainty
(Knapp and Hall 2010: 235). As to the frequency of the palms up gesture, it is present almost all
the time, but the palms down gesture was visible only a few times. Other meanings of the palms
up gesture include ‘pleading, begging, or even anticipating closeness’ (ibid.). Moreover, in
Figures 2.24. and 2.25. The gestures palms facing the speaker and the listener are evident.
According to the analysed published sources, if a speaker is facing his own palms to himself, he
is trying to embrace a concept and accept an idea (ibid.). As to the palms facing the audience
gesture, it indicates assertion (ibid.).
Figure 2.22. Palms up
Figure 2.23. Palms down
Figure 2.24. Palms facing the speaker
Figure 2.25. Palms facing the listener
In addition, one of the speakers also applauded himself while announcing the new Tesla
model, which started off a round of applause in the audience as well. It seemed as if the speaker
was doing it on purpose in order to create interest in the audience and draw attention to the
speakers and the presentation as such. The gesture can be seen in figure 2.26. Altogether there
are 20 gestures present in the observed business presentations.
Figure 2.26 Applause
2.2.2. The analysis of postures
The present chapter analyses the postures that were observed in the video materials of the
research. Postures are stated and their meaning is explained with exemplifications from the
empirical materials in the form of screenshots.
The postures that were described in the literature review of the present research are also
exemplified and stated here in the empirical research. One of the most important aspects of
posture is the way the person stands towards the listeners or the audience. This type of posture is
present and visible all the time and throughout the whole presentation; therefore, it is important
to notice and consider it when analysing the nonverbal communication of a speaker. According
to Matsumoto, Frank, and Hwang, there exist three attitudes a speaker might show towards the
listener or the audience, which are explained in the following sentences (2013: 87). Preference
shows the liking versus disliking of the speaker towards the audience, then the closed or open
orientation and the direct or indirect orientation also show the attention the speaker gives the
audience.This can be shown by the speaker through shoulder and leg position. The same authors
elaborate by stating that there is a certain degree to which the shoulder and leg positioning of a
person is turned towards the audience (or another interactant), which then shows the attitude the
speaker has. A more direct orientation shows like and a more indirect orientation shows dislike
(2013: 88). It can be said that the speakers displayed different attitude towards the audience. In
two of the video materials, there was only one speaker, who almost throughout the whole
presentation was faced towards the audience with his face, shoulders and legs. Some exceptions
occurred when the speaker was showing something on the screen, greeting other people on the
stage or explaining some already previously mentioned details and new features of the car. After
watching the presentations it is clear that the speaker was displaying positive and open attitude
towards the audience. As to the way the speakers were standing, most of them changed their
posture and moved around quite often, which, according to the theory, does not represent
confidence. As Verderber, Verderber, and Sellnow indicate, when a person distributes his or her
weight on both feet equally, they ‘maintain a confined bearing’ (2009: 46). Most of the speakers,
on the contrary, did not distribute their weight equally on both feet while standing. This posture
was present at some point in all of the presentations, but mostly the speakers moved around and
changed their posture. In the Figures 2.27. and 2.28. both a distributed weight posture and a
relaxed posture can be seen.
Figure 2.27. Distributed weight
Figure 2.28. Relaxed posture
The so called ‘Arms Akimbo’ position, in accordance with Andersen, is when a speaker
has ‘spread-legged and hands on hips’ position, which means that it is also a dominant position
and it communicates ‘coldness and unapproachability’ (2004: 94). However, the speakers mainly
stood in a relaxed position, and the arms akimbo position was never displayed. The speakers
arms were never folded while standing. As Knapp and Hall indicate, there might appear the socalled ‘postural shifts’ when the speaker switches to another topic or part of the speech, which
was the case in the figure above. Some other peculiarities of a person's position include the
exaggeration of the position or in other words leaning forward ‘in a confrontational way’, which
was never the case (Calero 2005: 73). The same with a similar posture - moving the upper torso
towards the centre (Calero 2005: 84). Also the shoulders of the speakers did not move up and
down on a noticeable level, which, according to Calero, could mean that the speaker is not sure
about what is being said and is not confident about the speech (2005: 73). In the analysed video
material, the speakers seemed confident in terms of posture display.
As to postures, when there was more than one speaker on the stage and the two were interacting,
they were turned directly towards each other, for instance, when shaking hands or handing down
the keys to one another. This is called the ‘direct orientation’, but at some point, when one of the
people on the stage was speaking and the other one was simply standing somewhere nearby, the
postural relation between them could be called ‘indirect orientation’ (Matsumoto, Frank, and
Hwang 2013: 88). It can also be mentioned that one of the speakers, the one who appeared in all
of the presentations, was especially friendly, he displayed affection towards the other people he
invited to the stage. For instance, he shook hands with them, smiled, and even hugged them.
Hugging on the stage was displayed by only one other speaker in the empirical material.
As to the speakers postures while simply standing, one of the speakers was quite fond of
putting his hand in his back pocket while speaking in the microphone. The posture created a
casual look.
Figure 2.29. Hands in pockets
As to the overall movement of the people on the stage, it can be concluded that they did
not move a lot, especially while walking, which also agrees with Andersen's statement that
‘men's bodies are almost motionless when they walk, especially the hips and torso’ (2004: 92). A
situation where one of the speakers walks can be observed in figure 2.30. As it can be seen, the
hips are straight, but the hands are still helping to balance the movement. It is said that the
‘wrists, forearms, fingers, and upper arms to move with the most frequent intensity’, which was
true in the product presentations. This has been put forwards by Knapp and Hall, who refer to
Bull & Brown, Erickson as well as Scheflen (2010: 244). Indeed, the upper part of the body as
well as hands moved more often than the rest of the body. The speaker in one of the
presentations also touched one arm and wrist with the other. He put his palm around the wrist of
the other arm while speaking.
Figure 2.30. Movement while walking
As to the connection between movement and speech segments, it was quite
noticeable. The speakers stood more still while explaining a certain detail, putting forward an
idea or talking about a specific topic and then there was the so-called ‘gross shift’ or simply a
postural shift, when only the upper part of the body moved (Knapp and Hall 2010: 244). When
this occurred, the person either started a new segment of the speech or finished the previous one
and moved on to speak about something else. According to the same authors, a postural shift
might appear before a long utterance or might be held for the period of speaking about a certain
topic. Moreover, Knapp and Hall assert that the larger parts of the body might be connected with
larger speech units and vice versa (ibid.). This also seemed true in the presentations. The
speakers actually did move the hands and the upper tors more when announcing something
important, and vice versa moved less when the topic of discussion seemed less important and
they speakers seemed less involved in the information they were presenting. Altogether there are
10 postures present in the observed business presentations.
2.2.3. The analysis of facial expressions
The present chapter analyses the facial expressions that were observed in the video materials of
the research. Facial expressions are stated and their meaning is explained with exemplifications
from the empirical materials in the form of screenshots.
The facial expressions that were described in the literature review of the present research
are also exemplified and stated here in the empirical research. One of the most important aspects
of facial expressions is the fact that they can be either controlled or uncontrolled (IUP Journal of
Soft Skills 2010: 20). In the product promotional videos the faces of some of the speakers seemed
controlled and as if they were trying to move as little as possible. From the point of view of
Peleckis, Peleckis, and Peleckiene limiting the movements of the face while speaking indicated
that the speaker does not believe him or herself what they are talking about (2015: 70). This
could mean that if a speaker is quite stiff, as was one of the speakers in the video material, he is
deceiving some information or simply not quite sure about what he is talking about.
As it was previously discussed in the theoretical part, great importance is given to the
movement of the eyebrows during one's speech. Eyebrows can have multiple functions, they can,
for example, play the role of illustrators, highlight or underline an important point in the speech
(Matsumoto, Frank, and Hwang 2013: 81). This was also evident in the product presentations,
almost all of the speakers used their eyebrows effectively as speech illustrators. They highlighted
certain points in the speech and accented specific words or phrases they wished the listeners to
pay more attention to. With the use of the eyebrows as speech illustrators, the presentations
seemed more structured. It was easier to understand the main ideas put forward as well as
comprehend the main concepts and the peculiarities of the different features of the new cars. One
of the speakers in particular did not use the eyebrows or other facial expressions very noticeably,
he was quite stiff and did not express a lot of nonverbal communication elements. Figure 2.31.
shows one of the speakers presenting his eyebrows as speech illustrators together with a hand
Figure 2.31. Eyebrows as speech illustrators
Furthermore, such facial expression as smiling was mentioned in the theory as an
important kinesic element in order to achieve understanding and warmth (Matsumoto, Frank, and
Fwang 2013: 82). Such authors as Navarro and Karlins point out the difference between a real
and a fake smile. A fake smile always draws the lip corners more towards the ears. Whereas a
real smile draws the lip corners up towards the eyes. That is the way a person can tell if another
person displays a real or a fake smile. In the business presentations observed, all of the people
displayed real and genuine smiles, which conveyed sincere and warm feeling and atmosphere. It
also created positive emotions and the desire and interest to find out more, listen to the
presentation until the end and actually try to understand all of the necessary details. Andersen
also believes that smiles create a ‘simultaneously positive, powerful, and persuasive [..]’ effect
(2004: 313). The display of a real smile can be seen in Figure 2.32.
Figure 2.32. A real smile.
Moreover, nodding the head has also been referred to as being a help in achieving better
understanding of the information presented (Matsumoto, Frank, and Hwang 2013: 82). It also
contributes to the feeling of warmth in the presentation (ibid.). One of the speakers, the one, who
was in all of the presentations, used the nodding facial expression multiple times. The way he did
it was with a sharp, very brief and fast nodding of the head downwards. He usually looked down
and nodded the head sharply after a statement. Altogether there are 5 facial expressions present
in the observed business presentations.
To summarize, the nonverbal elements observed in the present research are typical for a
business presentation. The most frequently used kinesic element is gestures. Gestures make up
the most part of the nonverbal language in business presentations. Postures are only a few, they
do not change a lot during the presentations, as opposed to the gestures. Facial expressions are
very peculiar and change rapidly.
The present chapter comprises a summative description of the research findings as well as it
mentions the implications, limitations, and some advice for possible future research.
The goal of the research was to discover the gestures, postures, and facial expressions
used in business presentations the most and whether or not they contribute to the persuasiveness
of the presentation. The research had three research questions:
What gestures, postures, and facial expressions are displayed in new product
What is the purpose and meaning of the gestures, postures, and facial expressions used?
Which of the following kinesic elements appears most in new product presentations:
gestures, posture, or facial expressions?
It can be said that in the presentations multiple gestures, postures, and facial expressions
were used. The displayed gestures include the following: the raised steeple, rhythmic chopping,
oscillating hand movements, a series of circular movements with the hand or arm, the baton,
expansion and contraction gestures, cup shaped gestures, the ideograph, depiction of a shape,
clenched fists, hands pressed together, scratching, pointing with the palm, pointing with the
index finger, bent head, palms up, palms down, palms facing the speaker, and palms facing the
listener as well as applause.
As to the postures present in the video materials, those include the following: the posture
relation of the speaker to the audience and to the other interactants of the presentation (open,
closed, direct, indirect), shoulder and leg positioning, the distribution of the speaker weight on
both or one legs, postural shifts, hugging, shaking hands, hands in pockets while standing, the
level of movement overall and the level of the upper body and the torso movement during
As regards the facial expressions displayed by the speakers during the product
presentations, those include the following: controlled and uncontrolled facial expressions,
smiling, nodding, eyebrow movements.
To answer the second research question, it can be stated that the purpose of gestures,
postures, and facial expressions in business presentations is to emphasize certain parts of the
speech, make the speech and presentation more memorable and, of course, persuade the viewers
to buy the products that are presented.
There have been 20 gestures, 10 postures, and 5 facial expressions used in the observed
business presentations. Thus, it can be concluded that the nonverbal communication elements
used the most in business presentations are gestures. The gesture used most frequently was the
palms up gesture. The posture that was evident the most was the postural shift and the facial
expression used the most was smiling. As to the NVC elements that work in the most convincing
way, those were the clenched fists and raised steeple, as well as open orientation towards the
audience and smiling.
As to the strengths of the research, the fact the it is the second research done by the same
author on the same topic, makes the research more reliable. However, at the same time, the
research lacks more theoretical background. In addition, one of the limitations would also be the
fact that only three aspects of nonverbal communication were analysed, which definitely affects
the conclusions of the research. For instance, the author of the research has analysed the
presentations according to the theory and concluded that a particular speaker was not trying to be
persuasive, but if more aspects of NVC would have been included in the analysis, the
conclusions drawn could have been different.
In future research, the author of the present paper would recommend analysing more of
the nonverbal communication aspects. This would broaden the range of conclusions.
1. Business presentations are the way of bringing the product and the information about the
product to the potential customer; thus, have the opportunity to either make a positive and
persuasive effect or a negative effect.
2. Gestures, postures, and facial expressions are considered to be even more valuable and
important in a speech that the verbal elements.
3. Nonverbal communication cannot be avoided; therefore, a person always communicates
something with his / her gestures, postures and facial expressions.
4. The nonverbal communication element used the most in the analysed business
presentations is gestures.
5. The most frequently used gesture was one of the palms gestures, usually the palms up
6. The most frequently used posture was the postural shift after or before a certain speech
7. The most frequently used facial expression was smiling.
8. The gestures that contribute the most to the persuasiveness of the speech include the
raised steeple as well as the clenched fists.
9. The persuasive gesture that was evident in all of the presentations was the clenched fists
10. The postures that persuade the listener include open orientation towards the audience in
terms of shoulder and leg positioning, which were present in all of the materials.
11. The facial expression the work in the most convincing way is the smile, which was also
present in all of the materials.
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