Evaluating How Body Language and
Humor Support a Position

Photo of Sarah Palin waving from a podium.

Source: Sarah Palin, T toes, Wikimedia Commons

In 2008, vice-presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin became famous for some of her facial expressions and gestures. Later, Governor Palin became the voice of the Tea Party. Watch this clip from a campaign speech in Fairfax, Virginia. As you watch, notice how Governor Palin uses the following delivery strategies:

Delivery strategies



A strong posture shows confidence and poise.

A natural posture can make a speaker appear relaxed.

A stiff posture can make a speaker appear distant and uncomfortable.


Appropriate gestures can assist in explaining ideas.

Natural gestures make a speaker appear comfortable.

Distracting mannerisms can make a speaker appear uncomfortable or nervous.

Facial expressions

Facial expressions convey emotions and show the speaker’s concern or enthusiasm.

Facial expressions can reveal a speaker’s true feelings or nervousness.

Eye contact

Eye contact with individuals in the audience helps them feel a connection with the speaker.

Sweeping eye contact across the room shows the speaker’s interest in the whole audience.


Humor shows that the speaker is comfortable with the audience.

Humor can help engage the audience.

Source: Sarah Palin Speaks at Fairfax City Rally, EditoratIP, Youtube

Using your notes, write your responses to the questions. When you are finished, check your understanding.

  1. What does Governor Palin’s posture say about her?

  2. How do Governor Palin’s gestures and facial expressions support her ideas?

  3. What effect does Governor Palin’s eye contact have on the audience?

  4. How does her humor strengthen her relationship with the audience?

Check Your Understanding

Sample Ressponses:

  1. She stands tall and appears confident and poised.

  2. As she mentions dropping taxes, she uses gestures to show stairs going down to convey the idea. When she says she’s returning money to the people, she circles her arms around to show she plans to share with all. Her facial expressions show her sense of humor and her personality, making her look like any American.

  3. She looks around at the whole audience, showing her interest in everyone and her desire to connect with all.

  4. Her humor makes her seem approachable and on the same level with the American people.