Public Speaking Analysis Follow-Up

Laban Movement Analysis: public speaking analysis follow-up

Well we are back, and it’s time to return to our friend Phil Davison.  I’m going to start with my observations as I watched this clip, followed by why I think he was not a particularly successful communicator in this speaking engagement.

(If you were unable to access the video… look up “Phil Davison Stark County Treasurer’s speech” on Youtube.  For the purposes of focusing our analysis, I have focused on minutes 1- 3.)

First: My thoughts and analysis as I viewed his speech

While there is much that we could discuss and analyze, my main impressions from observing his movement were:

  1. He reminds me of a wild animal, pacing and never rooting himself to one location.
  2. He is confrontational and ready to attack.
  3. His intense passion makes his actions unpredictable and uncontrolled.
  4. He demonstrates fear and uncertainty after moments of conflict.

As I watch Davison speak, I am reminded of a wild, pacing animal.  I see a pattern of Advancing and Retreating. The continual shifting between these two Shape Qualities gave me the sense of a pacing restlessness, as well as an attacking and retreating animal.  As he speaks he follows a meandering pathway in Space and never really roots himself to one location.  I was also given this restless, pacing impression as his tie kept catching my attention as it swayed back and forth throughout his speech, rarely finding stillness.

I also feel a sense of confrontation as I watch him speak.  I was given the impression of being confronted and almost assaulted or attacked by his continual use of the Forward High place in the Space matrix.  Anytime he was emphasizing a point he would punch a finger, sometimes two, Forward High towards the general location of the audience members’ faces if they had been standing right in front of him.  This repeated Punch Forward High with Advancing seemed to say “Take that!  In your face!”

Watching him, I sense he is passionate and heated.  I see this in the high intensity Strength, Direct Space, Quickness, and fluctuating Bound and Free Flow he uses.  He often engages in a full Effort Configuration making me feel he might combust or explode, because he has turned everything up, full throttle.  Because he is residing mostly in the condensing Efforts, his movement is given a characteristic look similar to that of a fight!  Like a fight, he seems to be moving and responding in the heat of the moment, which makes his movement unpredictable and uncontrolled.

Often following an Advance Forward High with a Punch he will Retreat, reducing his Strength and taking out an investment in Time (Example of this at minute 2:30, after he says “come out swinging and end up winning”).  He appears to be in what we LMA folk call Remote State where he is removed from a sense of self and an awareness of the time or the now moment.  As he Retreats in Remote State, I also see a slight Spreading or Widening in his face and eyes.  This Retreat and Widening of the eyes, gives him a look of fear.  He reminds me of a little boy after a tantrum, waiting to see, in fear, how his mother will react or punish him.

Second: What was he trying to communicate?

Forgetting my observations, I next watched the clip with sound to listen for what he was trying to communicate.  He gave the following reasons for voters to choose him:

  • He is educated (two Bachelor degrees and two Masters) and has had some experience (he has run in previous elections and served on the city council 13 years)
  • He has “been a Republican in times good, and in times bad.”
  • If nominated he will run an “aggressive campaign and be an even more aggressive campaigner.”
  • If elected, he will “hit the ground running, come up swinging, and end up winning.”

Now just seeing these words… I would probably have no objections to giving this candidate my vote.  He has education and experience, he is someone I can rely on to be steady and unchanging in his values and viewpoints in times good and bad, and he will be active and energetic in successfully accomplishing party objectives.

Third:  But did he communicate that to me?

Not at all!  Looking at the two lists, I think the only thing Davison intended to communicate that I truly picked up on was his ability to “come up swinging” and to be “aggressive!”  Yikes!  Just another testament of the power and meaning that lies in our movement.  Our movement is so meaningful in fact that it can override the message of the very words we speak.  This is where LMA can help.  The more we understand about the way we move, the more clearly expressive we can be as individuals whether in an intimate conversation or a formal speaking event.