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The Power of Body Language

Lesson 3 of 27

How Body Language Changes Perception

Vanessa Van Edwards

The Power of Body Language

Vanessa Van Edwards

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Lesson Info

3. How Body Language Changes Perception

Lesson Info

How Body Language Changes Perception

Back to our lie detection challenge. So as I mentioned, throughout the course I'm gonna be showing you videos of people playing the game Two Truths and One Lie. So this game is when someone says two truths about themselves and one lie and then we try to guess which one is the lie. So I'm gonna show you the video one more time, and then at the end he's gonna reveal what his answer is. So this was Aaron, he was talking. We had a couple of guests that maybe he'd lied that he had farted, maybe not. So let's watch it again and see what the actual lie was. So I love kayaking, I hate cherry tomatoes and I just farted, sorry you guys. The lie, still sorry, was that I don't like cherry tomatoes. (laughing) You took one for the team there. (laughing) So I have to say a huge thank you to Creative Live staff because when I told them that I wanted to make these videos I was like, so I'm gonna need a bunch of Creative Live staffers to lie to me on camera and then I'm gonna show it in front of ...

a bunch of people, is that okay? So these are all different Creative Live staffers who've been willing to enter into my lie detection experiment. So how many people guessed tomatoes? Be honest. Oh, Max, nice. So how many at home, if you got it right, you have an ability that you should hone. You already have that natural ability. Hopefully we'll test some more so you can see if you get more of them right. If you didn't get it right, do not worry. I'm gonna teach you exactly how to identify which are the lies in these fun games. So let's talk about how body language changes what people think about us. So this study was done at Harvard Business School. What they wanted to know was if you change your body language can it affect how other people perceive you? I'm sure that you're all guessing that the answer is yes. But I wanna explain exactly how. So what they did is they brought participants into a lab and they split them up into two different groups. In one group they had them prepare for a presentation. Just prepare the presentation. In the second group they had them prepare for a presentation but they also taught them power body language, which we're gonna learn a little bit later. So these two different groups, they went into a room of evaluators they gave their presentation, and they all got evaluated. So what's interesting is here are the three things that the evaluators were judging from that performance, from that presentation. They were looking at hireability, so would the person be good to hire? They were looking at presentation quality. And they were looking at overall performance. Those are the three areas they were judging on. Now if you were to think about how body language would change these ratings, the experimenters guessed that power body language would help with the overall performance, maybe the presentation quality. Those would be maybe the things that would change. Actually what happened, in group number two, the group that did the presentation with the power body language, got rated higher higher in all three areas. This is an interesting effect that body language has where just having confident body language can affect every aspect of your presence of how you interact with other people. What I think is really interesting about this is that they actually felt more confident. What they did after the interviews is they pulled all the participants and they asked them how did that feel to you? How did it feel to do the presentation? And everyone who had done the power body language not only got rated higher, they didn't know that yet. They also said that they felt better. Their overall ratings of their own performance and how they felt in the performance were also higher. And what was interesting, this piqued something for the researchers and they thought maybe there's something more to body language. It's not just about how other people perceive you, but it's also something about how you internally feel. It actually helps you get congruence. So we're gonna learn exactly how that works in a little bit. I always thought this study was interesting because in school we're given technical skills. For your job, whether you're a photographer or you work at an internet company or a developer, you have technical skills. And we're taught those throughout school and in college. But we're never taught people skills. We're not really taught how to interact with people in a concrete way. So you have these amazing technical skills, but you're not really taught how to sell them. Sales seems like a secondary thing that people can take extra courses on. And so I think it's interesting that we missed this, that we don't have both, the technical skills as well as the people skills. Because what this study shows is you can go in and give a fantastic presentation, verbally, all the facts are there. But if you don't know how to sell it, no one's gonna hire you, no one's gonna believe you. So I wanna talk very briefly about my personal story, how I got into body language. A lot of people ask me, how in the world did you get into body language? So I've been an entrepreneur for 10 years. And with my first company I always felt like I loved researching, I loved having my different ideas, but I had no idea how to interact with people. I say I'm a recovering awkward person. Because whenever I would pitch I just felt so uncomfortable. I didn't know where to put my hands. I didn't know how to act. I didn't know how to hold my body. And I was always uncomfortable, especially in social situations, business situations, networking events. I just never felt quite like myself. No matter how much I prepared, I never felt like I was really confident. And so my tipping point was I had a really important pitch and I had been trying to get this meeting with a VIP, it was a really influential guy in my industry. I had been Twittering him and emailing him and asking contacts to get me in touch with him. Took me like six months to get a meeting with him. I finally got a copy. He said, "Meet me at this coffee shop. "I'll give you 20 minutes." I was like, "I'll take it." So I prepared forever for this presentation. I had it perfectly memorized. I had it perfectly scripted. I had practiced it with everyone. And I got there and I met him and I gave the presentation. And I will never forget I ended it and I said, "So would you like to work together?" And he went, "Your 20 minutes is up." He was like, "No thanks." And my heart just dropped. And I said to him, I was like, "Is there any feedback you can give me? "Is there something that I can do "to make it better, what can I do?" And he sat there and he was like, "Your ideas are pretty good, "but you just have no presence." That's what he said. And for me that was a huge tipping point. And I was like something has to change. Something is not working here that he would say that my ideas are good but he still won't hire me. My presence, I was like, what is presence? I don't even know what that is. So I started to research online, books, confidence, influence boosters. And I stumbled upon body language and it just was like, this is an ingredient I had never even considered. So I started to research it. I got obsessed with it. Got all my certifications. Took about two years to get all my certifications and really dive deep into it. And I noticed there was a lot of changes happening at that same time. As I was working on my body language as I was working on my non-verbal, I realized that my business was easier. It was easier for me to go to networking events. It was easier for me to pitch. And I noticed it was also picking up. People were asking for my business card more often. I would meet them and they'd say, "Oh, I'd love your business card." That had never happened to me before. And so I got a pitch with a Fortune 500 company. And this was about two-and-a-half years after that first meeting. And I walked in and it was a big group of people around a boardroom table. And I walked in with my computer and I saw the guy that I had met with two-and-a-half years ago. And I had no idea he was gonna be in this room. He's sitting at the table. I'm was like, do I leave? He's already seen this pitch. And this pitch wasn't all that different from two-and-a-half years ago, but I was different. The way I was, I was like, what if he doesn't notice the difference? So I was like, I'm just gonna do it. I'm just gonna go for it. And so I got in there, I gave the pitch. It lasted for an hour, amazing. And afterwards he came up to me and he started asking me all these questions. And I was like, "Do you remember me "from two-and-a-half years ago? "Your heard this pitch." And he looked at me, and I was like, "At the coffee shop, 20 minutes." And he was like, "You're like a different person. "I didn't even remember you." And that was sort of the breaking point in my journey where I was like, okay, I need to teach this. That was when I actually decided that I wanted to make body language my full-time business. Because I realized he had not even remembered me before. So that is how I got into body language. For me, it was my missing ingredient. And that's when I decided to, this was six years ago, dedicate myself full time to sharing that with others. That is how I got into this work. What I learned was how to take back control of what I was doing. Take control of my message. I also want you to learn how to sell your skill, whatever skill you have. And everyone in this audience, everyone watching has a talent or a skill that they want to share. You have to know how to sell it. You could be awesome at what you do, but you have to know how to share that with others so they want to learn from you. And also third, I want to teach you how to connect with people, connect with them on a deeper level, have a deeper understanding of them. I've made the most amazing relationships, both business and socially, learning how to read people on a new level. So here's how we're gonna do it over the next few days. I wanna talk to you a little bit about my method, how I like to teach. I spent two years studying body language, as I mentioned, and it was really hard to learn it. It's hard to learn body language from a book. That's one of the reasons why I love Creative Live because it's all video. There's conferences all around the country, but there's no easy way to learn it. And I set out to design a way that was easy to learn. So here are my three ways that I'm gonna teach it to you. First, everything we talk about is science-based. So all the research that we talk about, except the case studies and the examples, either come from academic institutions or peer-reviewed journals. What's interesting is a lot of the research actually comes from anti-terrorism, FBI, CIA research. That's where a lot of this came from was in politics and government. The Nixon-Kennedy debate that I talked about, that was the first moment where the government or the public realized that body language was even something to study. And so the government was actually the one who funded a lot of those original studies. So a lot of the studies we're talking about are government/political cases that I'm translating into day-to-day business cases. We have a research database of over 500 studies. So one of the things that we do at The Science of People is we have a team that pull research from all around the world into one database, categorize it so that we can use it. We've built over 500, I think we're at as of this morning. We've been building it significantly. So we have all this database in one place that we can resource in whatever use case that we're talking about. I also am certified by Dr. Paul Ekman, who we're gonna talk about in a little bit. If anyone's seen the show "Lie To Me" that is one of my favorite shows. And he's actually based on a real life man. So Dr. Cal Lightman in the show is based on Dr. Paul Ekman. And so I got trained with him as well as Dr. David Mossomoto and I'm also certified in statement analysis, which we're gonna be talking about during lie detection. Number two, I am allergic to boring. Hopefully as you've already seen in this course I want to make this as fun for you as possible. Body language is a sexy topic, right. It is a fun thing to talk about. So we're gonna be playing games. We're gonna be watching a lot of videos. Because I want to make learning feel like it's entertaining as well. Lastly, I am very solution oriented. I think it's great to know studies. Great, very interesting. But I wanna make sure that I build in the action steps so that you read a study and then know how to use it. All these amazing researchers around the world are studying in academic institutions and then the academic research goes nowhere. If you've ever tried to read some of these research citations they're 20 pages of a lot of academic jargon. Wonderful insights, but it's hard to know what do I do with this, what do I do with it? So my goal is to translate all of those studies into action-based tips, very tactical. So all the science we talk about, I'm gonna show you how you can use this in the boardroom, how can you use this at a networking event, how can you use this when you're dating. So everything we're gonna talk about is action and solution based. So a little sneak peek of the different overall topics that we're gonna be doing. The first area is power body language. So power body language is all about the perfect pitch. So we talked about elevator pitches a little bit earlier. We're gonna be using power body language and confidence body language to find your perfect elevator pitch. And I say yours because everyone's is different. What I might tell Max is totally different from what I'm gonna tell Sarah because it has to be aligned with what you feel. So we're gonna find your perfect elevator pitch that works for you. Second, we're gonna talk about first impressions. So how to make a killer first impression no matter where you are, how you can be in control of what your impression is on others. Increasing your income; this is very sales based. How to get people to ask you questions, find you credible, trust you so that you can make more money. Whether that's negotiating for your salary or that's getting new clients. Because increasing your income is both of those things. Lastly is successful communication. So this is just interacting with people in a successful way. I don't know about you, but as a recovering awkward person I used to have these very stop and start interactions with people where I felt like, I call it social scripts. You walk into a networking event and you're like, so what do you do? What brings you here? Where are you from? And you're not even really listening to the answers. I'm going to be talking about how to make that communication back and forth, how you can make sure that it's successful. The second bucket that we're gonna be talking about is the non-verbal edge. So giving yourself an edge with your body language. That's your non-verbal brand. So your website, your social media pictures, your email signature, your photos, all about how you can make sure that your brand non-verbally represents who you are. Increasing your influence, so the non-verbal edge is also about making sure that you're showing that you're confident and you're powerful. Human lie detection. So the non-verbal edge is also about making sure that you can spot lies and protect yourself from deception. And lastly negotiation hacks. So one of the different things you can do if you're negotiating for a salary, a new client, even a new house or a car, those are all areas that you can use body language. I joke with my clients that they'll never go to a garage sale the same again. (audience laughing) Because they'll be able to haggle in a way that no one would believe. Do we have time for a question? Yeah. Because we are gonna be talking about first impressions and we did in the first segment today. Are you going to be talking about how you can change first impressions? Uh-huh. So Randy, stay tuned, we are gonna get to that. Yes, so the good thing about that is most of the time we kind of go into our first impression blindly. We have no idea, and we're very not accurate at our own impression. When they asked people in the lab to rate how they think they come across, they cannot do it accurately. We do not know how we come across. There's something interesting that we're gonna talk about later called the spotlight effect. Where if we have something that we feel uncomfortable about or awkward about like a pimple or even something in your pitch like we were talking about earlier like with your salary or you have a little lie. In your mind there's almost like a spotlight on it. We think that everyone notices and that everyone can see it. When, in fact, that is not the case at all. The biggest question that I get right now is what if it doesn't come naturally? People are like I don't do body language. I don't know how to read people, can I do this? And my answer to you is yes and definitely yes. And let me explain to you how and why. So this is our law of growth. So if you wanna just take out your laws of body language. This is our fourth law. And it is that you don't have to be born with it. We're not Maybelline. You don't have to be born with it. We can grow and improve our body language skills. This is a very easy thing to do. And it's all based on our brain and our behavior and how we learn. Got that, yeah, all right. So let me talk very briefly about body language and the brain. And I promise I will not get too specific into these science terms. But very briefly, we interpret and read body language in our occipital lobe and our parietal lobe. Those are in the back of the head right here. That's where we do most of our body language interpretation. Of course, it happens all over our brain, but that's where a lot of it is. And the interesting thing is our brain is like a muscle. So we can stretch and strengthen our brain just like a bicep or a quad. So bear with me while I explain this. If you never exercise your quads they are going to get very loose. But the second you start lifting weights with them they get strong and stronger and stronger and stronger. The brain is the same way with our neurons. So the more that we activate those areas that we need, the parietal and occipital lobe, the more that we active them, we actually grow the neurons that we need to be able to do better at reading body language. So right now, at the very beginning of the course, there maybe not so strong. But I have designed the course to make sure that we're building them up incrementally. So by the end, hopefully you'll have that nice brain headache in the back because we're gonna be building them up so that what seems hard in the beginning at the end of the course you'll be like I totally get this. This is so much easier than I thought it would be. It's so much easier than it was in the beginning. That's actually because we're building your brain like a muscle. I wanna show you a study that shows how this is in action. So Dr. Daniel Amen has an amazing brain research institute down in California. And he looks at brain activity; that is his whole job. He does this amazing research. And I wanna show you a couple of scans of brains and how quickly they can change and grow. So on the screen right now is a scan of a healthy brain. This is the activity, how a healthy brain, how active it is. You can see it's pretty complete, pretty solid. Now I wanna show you a picture of a drug-affected brain. This is a brain scan of a drug addict. Look at the difference. The activity in the brain actually changes. You can see there are those deep pockets of inactivity because neurons actually die off when you're not using them properly. Damage, and then they die off because you're not using them. Here's another example of an Alzheimer's brain. This is someone who's struggling from Alzheimer's. Look at the missing gaps in their brain? They have lack of activity in their brain because they lose the neurons. They lose the ability to think in certain ways. Now I wanna show you an interesting brain scan of Duval Love. Duval Love is a former NFL player. Right after he left the NFL he was having a lot of cognitive problems. And he went to Dr. Amen and he said, "I think something's wrong. "I think I've injured parts of my brain, what can I do?" They took a scan of his brain, and this is what his brain looked like, which is incredible. It's almost like a drug-affected brain. That's how many gaps there is compared to a healthy brain. So Dr. Amen put him through a brain training program to rebuild the areas of his brain that had those gaps and those holes. And he spent three months, he's spent a lot longer than that since then, but he spent the first three months actively engaging those areas of his brain that had lost activity. This is his brain three months later after this scan. All those holes are actually starting to be filled in. This is only three months. He ended up staying with him. He still does those exercises. So I show this exercise because I want you to see that we can grow our brain, and it happens very, very quickly. So even if we have low activity because we've never thought about body language before, if it doesn't come naturally, we can grow it just like a muscle in what we need and how we wanna fix it. Does that make sense? Any questions? I know that's a very science-y study on that. Any questions from the audience first? No? We're good? Oh, great, I did a good job. Anything in the chat rooms? Well, it's not necessarily about brains, but there's a question that's interesting in regard to learning styles. So C.B Rock Photo wants to know do learning styles, auditory versus visual, affect how you pick up on non-verbal cues? Very much. So visual learners have a much easier time finding patterns. They have higher activity in those areas of the brain. Also, body language is about finding patterns. You are looking for patterns and inconsistencies between what's happening verbally and non-verbally. But that doesn't mean that auditory learners have a much, much harder time. They just are looking at different things. In fact, they have a much easier time with the vocal power. Remember how we talked about a third of communication is voice, vocal power. A third is body and face, a third is vocal power and a third is words. So you just have a different area that you tend to focus on but it's very easy to increase them. That's a great question because you can train your brain differently. And by the way, I built this course trying to appeal to the different learning styles. So I try to explain an experiment or a concept and then I try to show you lots of pictures, then I try to be interactive with it. So for those watching, if you don't understand how an experiment goes, I'll try to explain it to you in a visual way or a different way so that I get all my different learning styles. Because I totally understand how hard that can be if you don't learn audio versus visual. So I want to tell you another brief story about this brain activity. I hope it's inspiring to you. I have a client who is a photographer. And she is amazingly talented. She's based in New York. And she came to me because she said that she was having a problem where she was getting tons of client calls. Clients were calling her all the time saying, oh, my god, I love your work. She's a wedding photographer. Are you free this summer. They would check the dates with her, they'd check rates, and then she would meet in person with them. And then this weird thing happened. She was not booking those in-person meetings. So they would come into the office. The date was clear, they were okay with prices and it just went kinda funny. And her tipping point in her journey was a client finally came to her and said, looked at her photo album, and she said, "I never would have guessed you took these photos." As if her amazing work was different from the person that was sitting in front of them. And for her that was a major tipping point that somehow her skill couldn't stand on its own. So she came to me. At that point she was booking one out of every ten client consultations. Those client consultations were already pre-scanned. They already had the dates in mind. And she said that when she did book a client they always negotiated with her on her rates. So how many of you work with clients and how many of them constantly negotiate with you? It is so hard when you tell someone-- first of all, it's hard to say your rate to someone. I'm gonna charge this much for my time that when they negotiate back with you it's like a sinking feeling in the bottom of your stomach. So she said that whenever she would say her rates she would constantly be haggled down. So she had a presence problem. She had this amazing internal world, this amazing vision. We had to match it up. So it only took a few weeks to be able to get her up to snuff to figure out what was right for her to increase her presence, and now she has a wait list for her summer weddings this summer. And I'm trying to get her-- she doubled her rates. I'm hoping she can triple her rates. And that's what I hope that everyone at home can do as well.

Class Description

How strong is your first impression? In this course, body language expert Vanessa Van Edwards explains how to use non-verbal communication to become the most memorable person in any room.

Vanessa will show you how to:

  • Read people by gauging their visual cues
  • Use body language to your advantage in meetings
  • How to tell if people are lying.
  • Voice modulation so you can impress clients in phone conversations
  • "Statement Analysis" to help you write powerful emails, website copy, and business cards 
This Power of Body Language course will positively affect every part of your professional life.  By the end of the course, you'll be able to identify exactly what impression your verbal and nonverbal language is giving, and how to increase it.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Baseline Coding System Chart

Lying Red Flags

Positive Trait List

The Nonverbal Elevator Pitch

Laws of Body Language Answer Key

The Nonverbal Sales Pitch

Trivia Answer Key

Citation List

Elevator PItch Clinic

Laws of Body Language Worksheet

Self Diagnosis Chart


Body Language - Trivia

The Microexpression Chart

30 Day Action Plan.pdf

Action Steps and Homework


Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


R. P. Getz

I loved this course! I've learned so much and Vanessa did a terrific job making it easy and fun. I loved learning that by paying more attention to body language, I'm becoming a better listener (and picking up on stuff I never caught before). ;) I recommend the class highly to anyone and everyone as all can benefit from being more aware of others and yourself!! My hard earned education $$ well spent here. :) Cheers to Vanessa Van Edwards and Creative Live!


This was an absolutely fantastic course, it would be a huge understatement to say this course was worth the money. Vanessa provided tremendously accessible, highly actionable training useful for both social and professional environments. I couldn't recommend this course highly enough, and am heading now to purchase her next one! Thanks so much Vanessa and Creative Live, this is the course I've been hoping to find for years.

susan kinnel

I just found myself applauding in my bedroom as this program was wrapped up, Vanessa is fabulous! This was money well spent, loved every moment of it! I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the information, and soon felt blown away by how many micro expressions I could spot during the clips she showed. I was so impressed with how easy it was to pick this info up due to Vanessa's enthusiastic delivery. YAY vanessa!