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Media Training: Non-verbal communications

  January 22, 2024

Staying on your messaging is the most important thing in any media interview.  But have you considered that messaging isn't just the words you say and the way you say them?  Whether you are doing a TV interview, a Zoom meeting or Facebook Live, visuals matter.  The idea is to have your non-verbals match your verbal communications.  

  • If your chair is on casters, resist the urge to swing from side to side (even slightly).
  • If you are standing, find a comfortable position and don't sway, slouch or stick your hands in your pockets.
  • Don't break eye contact.  This could mean with your interviewer or, with the camera when doing a remote-style interview.  
  • It's OK to nod your head but this can be overdone.  For example, if you're on live TV and the interviewer is asking a very long-winded question, don't feel the need to nod along for fifteen seconds.  Instead develop a pleasant "resting face" that shows you are interested.
  • If you are someone who likes to gesture, that's fine but be sure you know how wide the camera shot is first.  A wider shot allows for bigger gestures.  Never gesture close to your face though.
  • If you smile, make sure it isn't really a smirk.  The smirk conveys something very different than a natural smile.  The trouble is some people don't realize their smile isn't coming off the way they intend.  The same is true for laughter.  If something is truly funny that's one thing, but nervous interviewees will sometimes develop a nervous laugh.
  • Your clothing, hair, makeup and jewelry are also parts of your messaging.  Wild patterns can distract from your verbal messaging.  Large, clunky jewelry is also distracting and noisy.  An ostentatious piece, such as a gold Rolex, is fine if you want to convey wealth.  If you are trying to reach average viewers, you may want to leave that watch in the box.

The bottom line is details matter when you work in a visual medium.  If you get booked for a network TV interview or a hit on a local morning show, it is a big deal and can impact your business.  You want to be fully prepped verbally and non-verbally.  Media training is a great way to get prepared.  So is a practice run in front of a brutally honest friend, colleague or family member  You need someone to tell you the truth without fear of hurting your feelings.  

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