English body language ties debate

1 September 2017

I always find it surprising that commentators focus little attention on body language in political debates, when it often has more influence than what anyone says.

That’s precisely why Jacinda is so popular and why Andrew Little wasn’t. But the big mover in the body language stakes last night was Bill English. His biggest problem has been how he comes across. He’s always had the economic credibility, and he proved that again last night.

But in the debate he was far more animated than usual, gestured a lot more with his hands and smiled. Not many people realise that by gesturing naturally, your voice becomes normal, with tones moving up and down as they naturally should. This makes you sound far more passionate and interesting. Without doing this, you sound monotone and boring. English has often suffered from this, but last night he had it sorted.

 Jacinda’s body language was good, as it always is. She gestures naturally and comes across extremely well. It was also interesting to see her appearance. She clearly dressed down and didn’t overdo it on the make-up. This is important for anyone on television. You want to make sure that people are focused on you and what you’re saying, not being distracted by a bright dress or flashy tie.

 I’ll let others comment on the messaging and how well both leaders communicated that. However, I thought that was relatively even as well, although English was more competent on economic issues. I’d imagine that both English and Ardern would have been happy with their performances. The big question is, “What did undecided voters think?” That’s all they’ll be interested in.

 For more information on my media training, or a quote, email

Filed under Media Training

Written by

Pete is a leading New Zealand media trainer and regular blogger for his company, Media Training NZ . He has helped leaders from all sectors of society communicate with the media and other stakeholders. Pete is a former daily newspaper reporter and press secretary in the New Zealand government. From these roles, he understands the media process from both sides of the camera.

Leave a comment

Fields marked * are required

My Latest Blog Posts

28 April 2022
Luxon's tax question problem and possible answer
3 February 2022
Christopher Luxon on the money with 'caring' comment
16 December 2021
Why Greg Foran is my Media Communicator of the Year

Subscribe to our newsletter and get our FREE ebook '5 Steps to Pain Free Media Interviews'

Get your copy now

Media Training NZ Limited
PO Box 105721
Auckland 1070
PO Box 36-251
Christchurch 8011
Email: Pete Burdon
Tel: 029 200 8555
Website by
Limelight Online