An body language analysis of a video of Marissa Mayer

 In Learning from Luminaries

‘Everyone you meet knows something you don’t know.

Your job is to listen long enough to find it, and then use it.’

These statements, on the topic of listening, are ones I share with my clients.

What’s the point of sharing this?

My view, is that in addition to listening to, and learning from other people’s ideas, you can learn from listening to their voice, observing how they hold and move their body and noting how they structure their spoken messages.

With these thoughts in mind, and leaving aside the worth of her ideas, in this post I’ll analyse the first 2:45 minutes of Ex-Yahoo president and CEO Marissa Mayer‘s presentation of herself, in an interview with Charlie Rose.

Start of clip > 1:14 minute segment

I tell my clients that

Whatever can be seen or heard, will be seen or heard,

and will form an impression, and a potential for loss or gain’.

  • As she is being introduced by Rose, note Mayer’s welcoming, easy smile. The first two seconds of a person’s seeing you are important, and can determine their longer term judgements of you*. Mayer’s smile contributes to us forming a positive impression of her.

1:14 > 1:28 minute segment

  • Note Mayer’s seating posture during Rose’s introduction, Mayer has her arms under the table. This posture is defensive, and inconsistent with that of a confident executive. (She does move her arms on the table at the 1:28 mark). My feedback to Mayer would be, to always have her arms on the table in an uncrossed posture.


  • Note Mayer’s head turn to flick her hair away from her face. She repeats the flick four more times in the first 2:45 minutes of the clip. My view is that the hair flick is ‘visual noise’. It distracts the audience from her spoken messages. My feedback to Mayer would be to fashion her hair so it stays away from her face, making the flick unnecessary. When presenting to a group of people, this fashioning, would also allow her face to be seen from side angles.

1:28 > 2:45 minute segment

  • Mayer well uses an Open-Middle-Close speaking structure to answer the first question.
  • She ‘owns’ the physical space in front of her body.

Here is the link to the clip.

* Snap judgements work!

Own the Conversation

Over the next seven days note how you hold your body and position your arms at a meeting table. Do you have any habitual behaviours that could be visual noise? Aim, as a default seating posture, to rest your arms uncrossed on the table.

p.s Rose has interviewed a plethora of luminaries from a wide array of fields. I recommend you trawl his extensive clip library.

p.p.s. Check out this post entitled, Every ounce of effort in every word I sing.

p.p.p. s. You might want to trial my Confident Personal Communication video learning programme because it will give you practical techniques to ‘Own the Conversation’.

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