Body Language Expert Explains Trump's Election Night Speech

In the early hours of Nov. 4, 2020, President Donald Trump took the stage at his White House election night watch party to address the closely watched 2020 presidential election. "Millions and millions of people voted for us tonight, and a very sad group of people is trying to disenfranchise that group of people," the president claimed, with votes still being counted across the country. "We won states we weren't expected to win," he continued. However, as of this writing, the election is too close to call. Thanks to an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots, the tally will take much longer than usual, with several key states still up in the air.

Around the same time that Trump took the stage, his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, also addressed his supporters. Biden urged them to remain calm and restated that the election isn't over until all votes are counted. The opposing candidates' messages were strikingly different, with Biden urging patience and Trump claiming the election was all but won. 

One thing that stood out to millions tuning in around the world was Trump's body language. Words are only part of how people communicate, after all. Often, body language or facial expressions can betray thoughts that are never said out loud. Nicki Swift chatted with an expert to get the down-low on Trump's election night body talk.

President Trump is in 'fight mode'

"Tonight [President Donald Trump] needed to make a statement and choose his words carefully," body language expert Lauren Cohen, an executive and career coach, told Nicki Swift. "As usual, Trump had his feet planted and stayed in place and used upper body gestures and expressions to communicate tonight's message," she continued. "President Trump knows how to communicate with the audience even when he's not speaking and how to influence the audience's emotions with a simple look. He is always theatrical."

Trump became even more expressive when discussing toss-up states like Arizona and Pennsylvania. "When he expressed frustration and disappointment about Arizona getting called 'too early' for Biden, he used a lot of dramatic hand motions," Cohen explained. "He also did a toned-down (for him) imitation of the news anchor, which always reinforces his point and makes his words more memorable. The brief mimic and hand gestures reinforced his fury and frustration."

"When discussing Pennsylvania where he said he is up 690,000 votes, he had his palms up and his body was defiantly saying this is indisputable and fact," Cohen added. At the time of publication, Pennsylvania has yet to be called.

The overall message of Trump's body language, though, was that he came to win. Cohen noted that Trump concluded his remarks with his "fists up to display power, passion, and conviction." Translation: he's not messing around. "Trump displayed tenacity," said Cohen. "He is in fight mode."