The passing of the torch from the outgoing White House press secretary to the incoming White House press secretary is a monumental thing. Though it’s an honor to hold the job title for any amount of time, it’s also a very tough job as the world watches and waits for and grades your performance.
This week, we watched as Karine Jean-Pierre replaced Jen Psaki. And while there was a lot to critique in her answers to tough questions, her body language also deserves a conversation. Karine Jean-Pierre will likely improve as time goes on—the first week is usually the toughest—but there are lessons to learn in how she handled herself behind the podium. We all knew she was nervous (who wouldn’t be?!) because she looked nervous. But even if you are, there are ways to hide it and project confidence instead.
#1 — Don’t shift weight.
In this clip, you can see how the new press secretary shifts her weight from leg to leg. Doing so causes her to move around in the frame, which is distracting. Occasionally shifting weight is fine as you don’t want to lock your knees, but you want to stay centered behind the podium the majority of the time. Standing planted helps you look like you’re in control.
#2 — Maintain eye contact.
Referencing your notes to answer tough questions is wise. Reading straight from your notes without making eye contact with your audience makes it appear as if you don’t know the content. It’s better to alternate between referencing your notes and looking at the audience—spending more time looking at the audience. Of course, it’s best to have had enough practice to be able to speak without relying on notes. But if you’re not at that point, don’t let your fallback be to read your notes verbatim. Again, maintaining as much eye contact with the audience helps you look like you’re in control.