Thursday night, body language expert Sara Canuso helped us decipher Lance Armstrong's mannerisms as America watched Oprah Winfrey press him on questions about the use of performance enhancing drugs during his career.
A twist of the mouth, a bite of the lip — indicators we learned could be signs of arrogance and guilt. Armstrong admitted he doped his way to all seven of his Tour de France titles, but showed very little emotion.
In part two of his interview with Oprah, Canuso predicts he will show a more human side of himself, or be at risk of missing out on any forgiveness from the public. Canuso, creator of A Suitable Solution in Philadelphia, joins Metro live again tonight to offer more real time observations on Armstrong's body language during the interview.
10:00 p.m. “The truth shall set you free.” Oprah concludes the interview by quoting Armstrong’s ex-wife. Canuso concludes it by labeling the interview as extremely guarded on Armstrong’s side. “He was constantly covering his mouth and shaking his head, big indicators of not telling all of the facts,” she says. In addition, Canuso highlights Armstrong’s habit of laughing or smirking when asked questions, which is tied to arrogance.
Perhaps the most significant thing Armstrong didn’t do was look into the camera, leading Canuso to believe he wasn’t being totally forthcoming in the interview.
9:55 p.m. Armstrong recognizes the “ultimate betrayal” that was his deception of the people who cared about him the most. His words are heavy with remorse, possibly striking a chord with viewers. Even still, when Canuso looks at Armstrong she sees nothing but nerves. “He is continuously licking his lips and drinking water, both signs of anxiety.”
9:45 p.m. The interview shifts gears, turning the spotlight to allegations that Armstrong had a hand in bribing USADA (the United States Anti-Doping Agency) with a donation of over $150,000. Armstrong vehemently denies the claim with adamant, no-nonsense responses. “He’s sitting up and has a firmer look,” says Canuso. “He wants to keep control of his emotions.”
Even so, Armstrong is seen playing with his fingers throughout the discussion as well, signifying nervousness.
9:40 p.m. With Armstrong receiving criticism last night for not showing enough emotion, talking about his children tonight could be the opportunity to humanize him for viewers. Oprah asks about how his son has fared through all this, which elicits long pauses of introspection from Armstrong. “His damp eyes indicate anxiety, fear or sadness,” says Canuso. “Then he closes his eyes as if he wants to shut out the world.”
Pinching the bridge of the nose is also a sign of confusion.
9:30 p.m. As the focus shifts to Armstrong’s ex-wife, children and therapy, he continues to rub his neck, a sign of feeling pressure. “He says he has work to do on himself, but shakes his head no,” says Canuso, noting the contradiction.
9:25 p.m. The conversation turns to Armstrong’s public persona. Oprah leads in with questions about the authenticity of his intentions. In other words, why is he doing this interview? “Oprah is asking questions he does not want to answer, so you will see him take deeper breaths,” says Canuso.
When asked if he has remorse for his actions, Armstrong pauses to weigh his response. “True remorse and emotion would come without hesitation,” she adds.
9:15 p.m. Canuso immediately picks up on Armstrong’s crossed legs. The fact that he’s holding onto his leg also suggests that he may be feeling partially closed off to Oprah’s questions. “He answers each question absolutely while shaking his head no,” she says.
According to Canuso, Armstrong’s body language lends itself to the idea that he isn’t being fully upfront. “There are signs of holding back on the truth,” she says. “In this case, it could be that he isn’t telling all of the facts.”
9 p.m. Lance Armstrong takes his place once more in the hot seat. Last night, the world watched as the once-beloved icon fielded a barrage of tough questions from Oprah. According to our body language expert, Armstrong speaks volumes without ever having to open his mouth.
Part two of the Oprah exclusive wastes no time in cutting to the chase, kicking off the interview with a focus on lost mega-million sponsorships and his fall from grace within the Live Strong campaign. “Again, we see Armstrong continually looking down, trying to be careful of what he says,” shares Canuso. An underlying anger also peaks through Armstrong’s pursed lips.