Mark Zuckerberg’s Opening Remarks to the House Energy and Commerce Committee

By April 11, 2018Case Studies

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, started a second day of testimony in front of Congress today. Here I use EffectCheck® to analyze the lexical emotional content of his opening remarks, which can be found here. To do so, I have used the EffectCheck category of “apology letter,” because much of Zuckerberg’s remarks are suggestive of an apology.

Within this category, EffectCheck assessed the overall emotional tone of his opening remarks as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. The overall lexical evoked emotions from Mark Zuckerberg’s opening remarks to Congress on April 11, 2018.

Of note is the high level of evoked confidence relative to other apologies but also the missed opportunity for evoking higher happiness. The 100-word moving window of his remarks is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. The 100-word moving window analysis of Mark Zuckerberg’s opening remarks to Congress on April 11, 2018.

The graph shows a carefully constructed message, starting with very high confidence and above typical compassion and happiness, along with typical hostility and lower evoked levels of anxiety and depression. As Zuckerberg acknowledged problematic issues, the levels of anxiety, hostility, and depression rose, but declined from that peak, replaced by confidence and compassion. It’s noteworthy that evoked happiness was never much above typical levels for this category, except in the very beginning.

This is likely a missed opportunity to evoke optimism at the close of his remarks. For example, rather than stating:

“I started Facebook when I was in college. We’ve come a long way since then. We now serve more than 2 billion people around the world, and, every day, people use our services to stay connected with the people that matter to them most.

I believe deeply in what we’re doing, and I know that, when we address these challenges, we’ll look back and view helping people connect and giving more people a voice as a positive force in the world.

I realize the issues we’re talking about today aren’t just issues for Facebook and our community; they’re challenges for all of us as Americans. Thank you for having me here today, and I am ready to take your questions.”

an alternative closing would have been:

“I started Facebook when I was in college. We’ve come a long way since then. We now serve more than 2 billion people around the world, and, every day, people use our services to stay connected with the people that matter to them most, their friends, family, and loved ones.

I believe deeply in what we’re doing, and I know that, when we address these challenges, we’ll look back and view helping people connect and giving more people a voice as a positive force in the world. We have a lot to offer, and the future looks very bright.

I realize the issues we’re talking about today aren’t just issues for Facebook and our community; they’re challenges for all of us as Americans. We are ready to meet those challenges. Thank you for having me here today, and I am pleased to have this time with you.”

With this closing, EffectCheck shows (see Figure 3) a substantive difference in evoked happiness into the close of Zuckerberg’s remarks:

Figure 3. EffectCheck 100-word moving window with the potential revised text of the last three paragraphs of his opening remarks, which evokes higher happiness into the close.

Summary

Overall, EffectCheck analysis shows Zuckerberg’s opening remarks to Congress to be well crafted in terms of evoked emotions, with the possible missed opportunity for evoking higher levels of happiness into the close of his remarks. The possible revision as suggested here could have been helpful in this regard.