Body language expert gives assessment of Liz Truss's gestures during conference speech

The Greenpeace protest that disrupted Liz Truss's Tory party conference speech yesterday actually "did her a few favours" and broke the ice for her, according to a body language expert.

Ms Truss was interrupted by two climate demonstrators who shouted: "Who voted for this," as they held up a banner.

"I think she actually became better afterwards," psychologist and body language expert Judi James told Sky News.

"I think the applause that she got here on the back of it seemed to break the ice a bit for her.

"At the start the speech she was not particularly good, but she did improve after this so I think actually did her a few favours."

You have to do some fracking to find her charisma

Self-heckling and a self-hug - the anxious giveaways

Ms James described one moment with Liz Truss stood at the lectern as "quite robotic".

"The smiles didn't look quite genuine," she said, saying the body language was "self-heckling" despite Ms Truss selling herself as a strong woman.

Ms James spoke about how an "upturned V under the armpit" can be a sign that we feel confident.

"Unfortunately, when we don't feel that confident, the elbows and the arms come in against the torso in a self-hug.

"And that's when you get these odd hand gestures...

"This kind of thing, and particularly with these very anxious, spiky fingers, she managed to look quite confident but these have been little giveaways maybe that would tell me that she's not quite as confident as she's looking."

Channelling Thatcher... and Blair?

Perhaps coming as no surprise, Ms James said Ms Truss was seeking to emulate one of her predecessors: Margaret Thatcher.

"Also with her body language and the way that she was speaking as well, she's channelling Thatcher."

She gave the example of Ms Truss speaking in groups of three, an old technique used by the former Tory prime minister.

"But then she brought out the Tony Blair "thumb of power", Ms James added.

The invisible grip gesture

"This is one that worries me slightly," says Ms James. "She used it a lot in the conference."

Ms James describes this gesture as outlining the scale of the problem by holding your hands apart, as if you're "moving bricks", but says it needs to be finished by a "precision gesture" with one hand in front making a small grip, which shows you have a solution the problems you outlined, which Ms Truss didn't do.

In conclusion

"She did better than I thought she was going to. Bit of charisma still needs... she needs to play to her own strengths rather than trying to be other people."