The power of the eyes

In face-to-face communication, the eyes (and eye gaze) are the most powerful part of the body we have. John McDonnell illustrated this on Sunday when he directly turned to the camera during an interview on the Andrew Marr show (BBC). The change in gaze from interviewer to viewer (and then back) provided a powerful shift from the traditional interview format to one addressing the television viewer.

McDonnell explicitly identified in his words his intentions with ‘what camera am I (on)’. The shift in eye gaze to the camera enabled him to directly connect with the viewing public thus moving from a traditional interviewer-interviewee format to addressing-the-audience format.

JM: look er we’ve got to stop this (.) mcdonnell_john02
    xx xx we- (.)
    what camera am I=
     ((looks at studio camera)) mcdonnell_john03
AM: =okay=
JM: =am I on this ⇗ camera (.)
     ((points at camera))
    let me just say (.)
    straight up look
    let me just say this
    to labour party supporters
    labour members (.) .hh
    members of the parliamentary Labour party (.)
    .hh we’ve got to stop this now

McDonnell continued to address the audience as Marr attempted to wrestle the floor from him and return to the interview format.

    people (.) there’s a small group out there mcdonnell_john03
    .hh that are willing to destroy our party
    just to remove (.) Jeremy Corbyn
    we’ve got to stop them
    we’ve got to unite
    and (.) if [you want to come=
AM:            [right
JM: =for me and Jeremy Corbyn
    that’s up to you but (.)
    don’t pick on staff
    who can’t defend themselves (.)
    in addition to [that=
AM:                [mm
JM: =last week [save Labour
AM:            [okay
JM: we’re taking about splitting the party (.)
    .hh I want Owen
    and [Jeremy=
AM:     [ca- ca- ca-

McDonnell eventually turns his gaze back to the interviewer, Marr, to signal the end to this short ‘party political broadcast’.

JM: =and everyone to say
    let’s stop this now=
      ((turns gaze toward interviewer)) mcdonnell_john04.jpg
AM: =hold on
    ca- can can I join in on this
JM: well I’m I’m [sorry Andrew=
AM:              [can I can I join in
JM: =I think this is
    so [serious now
AM:    [but but you’re suggesting


Here is a giffy of when McDonnell turns to the audience.


You can watch the exchange at the following external locations:

BBC News on YouTube  (about 3:45)

BBC iPlayer ‘Andrew Marr show’ – 24th July 2016


BBC Andrew Marr show, 24th July 2016

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