BODY LANGUAGE SPEAKS VOLUMES ABOUT BILL GATES
By HILKA KLINKENBERG
Even the world's richest man gets jitters appearing before the
Senate, and his body language can speak louder than his words. The Post
asked image consultant Hilka Klinkenberg, who coaches Fortune 500 company
executives on body language, to review Bill Gates' performance.
The most profound thing about Bill Gates is that he keeps a lot concealed.
For someone making his first appearance in Congress, he came across
as sincere and likable, but there was one troubling moment I saw. Perhaps
the senators noticed,too.
It's the kind of mistake that can ruin a CEO's message.
At one point, Bill was making a fairly factual, accepted statement -
"The rapid introduction of the Internet is the most exciting example of
innovation in the march of progress."
But as he was saying this very positive statement, his head was shaking
"no," and he made this tight insincere smile. This is clearly a contradiction
between mind and body.
It was strange and I honestly don't know what to make of it. He's obviously
been coached by image consultants on how to handle himself, and made scores
of speeches, but he slipped up on this one.
People tend to believe the body language instead of the words.
This tight insincere smile also gave Bill away. Whenever he talked about
competition and innovation - not his, other companies' - he got this tight
insincere smile, as if to say he was annoyed by competition and wants the
whole ball of wax to himself.
Bill was best with his hand gestures, which were non-threatening and
sincere. He rarely used his pointed finger to make a point - this is threatening
- he used two curled fingers, and his palms were open to show he wanted
to share his information sincerely.
This worked well for him. But the more powerful the person, the fewer
gestures he makes, and people who are less powerful have to make more gestures
to assert their power.
When Bill walked into the chambers he was confident and his posture
was good, showing he was sure of himself. But when he sat down, he didn't
seem to have that much confidence.
He was swallowing a great deal when he started speaking, which can be
indicative of someone who isn't being totally honest, or indicative of
someone who has a nervous, dry mouth, or just someone who has a sore throat,
which Bill seems to have.
I didn't see anything that was frightening or menacing about Bill. There's
almost a Princess Diana quality about him, the way he tilts his head to
one side and looks up the way Diana did. It's an endearing shyness that
He's also got another endearing gesture he makes - he bites his lower
lip and pauses for a nanosecond, which makes what he's saying more acceptable
and very sincere.
He comes across beautifully with that gesture.
Overall, Bill was generally sincerely but I don't think he was particularly
impassioned or moving in what he was saying
In my opinion, the winner hands down, as far as public appeal is concerned,
was Netscape's Jim Barksdale who was sitting at the witness table with
Bill. When Jim turned to the audience and asked them to raise their hands
if they had Microsoft products, he brought down the place. Gates wasn't
able to match anything that demonstrative.