Prime Minister Boris Johnson flew into the Manchester conference hall like a bleached bat before unleashing a tidal wave of words, says body language expert Judi James
Image: Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)
Earlier today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave his keynote speech at the Tory Party Conference in Manchester.
Heavy on the wisecracks but light on policy, Johnson referenced beavers, the impending mass pig cull and the Euros during his 45-minute stint on his purpose-built stage.
Here, body language expert Judi James decodes exactly what he meant in the gestures and expressions he put out.
This 45-minute galloping charge of a speech showed Boris as his level best in terms of delivery.
Thatched by hair and Thatcher by nature, he surpassed not just himself but also the skills of some of the greatest orators in terms of motivational, over-the-top-of-the-trenches, life-will-be-as-sweet-as-a-nut impact, as well as delivering a one-man variety show that I will be watching again just to re-hear some of his hilarious punchlines.
Boris flew into the hall like a bleached bat, muttering to himself as he walked towards the stage. Unlike Starmer’s ‘conquering hero’ stance of arms akimbo and mouth wide open, Boris stood hunched over the lectern, flapping his hands to urge the audience to sit down, shut up and listen.
Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)
His body language produced a surprising and compelling sense of urgency, especially for a country currently idling in petrol queues. It was a counter-intuitive approach that worked for the duration of his speech.
The following tidal wave of words knocked us off our feet. Devoid of his usual bluster and time-consuming verbal fillers, this talk was rattled off at warp speed.
He only slowed for the moments when he was providing answers or solutions and at times he even threw in asides to double up the word flow.
His gestures looked congruent, too. Boris often chucks in his gestures as an after-thought, throwing out punches and points in a way that suggests they don’t define his authentic emotions. Here though they were running in synchronicity with his words. Standing with both elbows resting heavily on his lectern he slapped his hand down noisily to make his points.
Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)
There were a couple of flying stabs in the air and a few thrown punches but this speech was more of a rallying cry than an assault on the enemy, so less about attack and more about flying the flag to glory.
In many ways Boris’s body language and approach stole the energy, bristling impatience, conviction and fire that we’d normally expect from a party in opposition. Unlike Starmer, though, he kept his attacks less personal and more witty, describing Keir as looking like a ‘rattled bus conductor’ and the Corbynistas as ‘Sellotaped spectacles’.
He kept his speech light on clumsy and clichéd sound bites and slogans like his ‘Build Back Better’ but threw in an ‘unique spirit’ we should ‘unleash’ right at the end to finish on a newer note.
Picking up his folder and pausing only briefly to stand with Carrie, he then rushed off like a man keen to get back to his work of producing the Utopia he was describing.
Charisma is a funny old thing. Get it right and you can create almost a hypnotic effect and Boris certainly got it right for 45 minutes today.