Biden's Body Language During His Election Night Speech Reveals A Lot

The days and weeks leading up to the 2020 presidential election were quite a rollercoaster ride, and Election Day was no different. As Election Day fell in the middle of a pandemic, tens of millions of Americans voted early and voted by mail, per The New York Times, meaning that as election night rolled in to the next day, it was still unclear whether the winner was President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden.

As the night drew to a close, it became increasingly clear that Americans would not be getting a definitive answer on Nov. 3, 2020. Joe Biden took the stage in the early morning hours of Nov. 4, 2020, and urged Americans to be patient and to wait for all the votes to be counted before a winner is declared. While his words delivered a message Biden has stressed in the past, what sort of non-verbal cues can be gleaned from his election night speech? 

Nicki Swift spoke with body language expert Lauren Cohen, who is also an executive and career coach, to see what we might learn from Biden's physical demeanor.

Joe Biden spoke before Donald Trump on purpose

Joe Biden took the election night stage before President Donald Trump, a decision body language expert Lauren Cohen says was likely deliberate. "...[T]he election is clearly going beyond election night," Cohen said, adding "sometimes coming out first is an attempt to be Alpha where he can control the narrative." While Cohen admitted that "[s]ome will joke that he just wants to go to sleep," that is not the only reason. "...[H]e wants to speak to America and connect, as this is how he likes to lead."

While Biden's words stressed patience and rationality, some elements of his physical appearance might have revealed how unsure he was. Cohen noted that "His face was tense, and his smiles were not the usual ear-to-ear Joe Biden. Clearly a nail biter for him and the country." That being said, while his body language may have been tense, that doesn't necessarily mean it was negative. "... [T]his is genuine Joe we are seeing."

Cohen also noted that while Biden's face may have been tense, his complexion looked less pale than it had in the days leading up to Election Day. "Good coloring makes him appear more in control and less nervous," Cohen told Nicki Swift. Biden also "did a hard swallow" when he mentioned waiting for the votes from Michigan and Wisconsin. While he may have been verbally saying "we got this," according to Cohen, "his body language said he is unsure."

Joe Biden did his best to seem energetic

As Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden spoke to the crowd in the early morning hours of Nov. 4, 2020, body language expert Lauren Cohen noted that he did his best to relay energy and optimism. "He used his hands to show some motion and energy," Cohen said, adding "at the end [Biden] put his fists up and did some pointing to exhibit some strength." Similarly, Cohen said: "When he went to pick up his folder on the podium at the end, he tapped it against the podium to show here I am and I'm tough and strong."

Despite his efforts, Biden's wife, Jill, might have overshadowed him in that area, according to Cohen. "When he and Jill were waving to the crowds after, she demonstrated much more energy than he did and I found my attention drawn to her more than him," she explained. Even if he couldn't match her energy, Cohen noted that Biden's exit, which was "hand in hand with Jill, appeared genuine and they were very much in sync as a couple."

Overall, Cohen noted that "Biden's body language mirrors his personality in most ways. He came across as agreeable and likable." The body language expert added that Biden tried to distinguish himself from Trump, noting, "He wants to be looked at like an ally or friend not as a fearless leader. He uses body language which demonstrates that openness and is not commanding or intimidating."