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Media Interviews: Non-Verbal Communications

By Suzanne Spurgeon, Founder of Women Media Pros  August 20, 2019

Does your face match your messaging?  That may seem like an odd question, but it is one we ask in our media training sessions.  If you are anxious about a TV interview, it may show on your face when cameras roll.  It could be a nervous laugh or a smile even though the topic is serious.  By taking part in mock on-camera interviews ahead of the real thing you can see for yourself if your face is giving the wrong impression.

There are other non-verbal cues to consider as you prepare for a TV interview or Facebook Live.

  • Shaking your head up and down too much during an interviewer's long-winded question

  • Shaking your head side to side (the negative look) when what you are saying is positive

  • Wringing your hands. Try folding them naturally in front of you instead.

  • Making hand gestures that are too big and may block part of your face  

  • Slouching posture that implies you don't really care about the topic

  • Swiveling in your chair is a distraction and makes your look like you are nervous

  • Clearing your throat (ask for room temperature water before the interview)

  • Wearing big, clunky jewelry.  Will viewers be listening to your every word or fixate on your sparkle?  Besides, a large bracelet will make noise if your hand hits the desk and an oversized necklace may hit the mic you are wearing and breakup your sound.

  • Wild patterns are not a great idea. You don't have to wear boring clothes but if it distracts from your messaging, it's a no-go.

  • Looking down or up to the ceiling for answers also impacts how you communicate with an audience.  If you absolutely need to glance down at your notes, try to do it quickly. 

Eye contact is especially important in TV interviews.  If you are solo in a studio, look into the camera to maintain eye contact with your audience.  If a journalist is sitting next to you or across from you, look at him/her during the interview, as you would in any normal conversation.

There's a lot to remember, but the more you practice the non-verbal elements the more comfortable you will be.  Then you can really focus on your verbal messaging.

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