Have you ever looked into the eyes of someone and felt like you knew what they were feeling? The eyes are a powerful tool in communication and can speak a thousand words.
I have met many diverse and complex characters in my radio and TV career and found truth in the saying about eyes being a gateway to the soul. For example, I met an infamous murderer whose eyes were nearly totally black and dull in texture, very unnerving. In contrast, when watching a charity worker talk passionately about their cause; the eyes were bright and expressive.
Why is body language so important?
Body language is as important in communication as the spoken word.
When making a video for a company or client, we tell a story. We talk to the people involved in that story. This usually involves interviewing people who tell us in their own words why their company, product or service is relevant to their audience.
Body language has an important role in communicating. The person being interviewed may have the best speech prepared, full of juicy content. But if the body language doesn’t complement the speech, the message can be lost.
How to persuade and influence
It’s vital the person communicating is believable. Firstly, if you don’t believe in what you’re saying, then why should the audience believe? It’s not easy to fake and there are many tell-tale signs. Here are a few:
- Are you overly animated?
- Does it sound like what you’re saying came from someone else?
- Do you stumble over words or make mistakes?
- Do you look like you’re concentrating on what you’re saying?
- Do you look stiff and uncomfortable in your own body?
- Are you looking around as though distracted or looking for guidance?
Confidence is the most important aspect of a convincing delivery when it comes to body language. Here are a few tips on how you can use body language to your advantage and why it matters:
1. Maintain eye contact
If you’re being interviewed by a producer who is standing off-camera, it’s important to maintain eye contact as much as possible, without being intense.
Looking around makes you look shifty and suspicious. It looks like you are uncomfortable or looking for inspiration.
2. Stand tall and straight, but relaxed.
Standing tall asserts authority and power. Don’t be afraid to own the space. Even if you are nervous, faking it helps you sound more self-assured. Your voice will project clearly through the open stance. Slouching makes you appear not to care. It also looks messy on camera and is actually more likely to make you withdraw into yourself.
3. Keep your feet still
For practical reasons the cameraman needs to keep you in the frame of the picture. Sometimes the crew uses a marker on the floor to keep you in the right position. For the purpose of effective body language, shuffling your feet makes you look on edge, and that communicates to nerves.
Keep your feet rooted and pointing to where the producer says. Looking towards the camera shows you as poised and at ease while communicating to the audience. By projecting down the line of sight of the lens (or the producer), you are effectively speaking directly to the viewer. Trust the producer to give you the right advice about where to stand and where to direct your eyes.
4. Don’t put up barriers
Body Language Research shows crossing your arms or legs is a defensive pose and is a big no-no when being interviewed. You need to look as open as possible, showing you have nothing to hide. Face the camera or producer and direct your message towards them.
5. Do you talk with your hands?
It is totally normal to talk with your hands; it’s expressive and can help put your message across. Producers are commonly asked by the talent what to do with their hands.
I suggest starting the interview with hands clasped together in front of you. This position feels secure and occupies your hands. It means you are less likely to fidget. The audience focus is redirected from your fidgeting hands to what you are going to say.
How can we help?
As experienced producers we are used to interviewing nervous people. For advice on how to calm those pre-filming nerves, check out our blog: 6 Ways to Avoid Crumbling on Camera.
Feel free to get in touch. We offer guidance so you reach your full potential in communicating your message. You’ll appear on video the best you can possibly be - wardrobe, hair and make-up are extra!
- by Lucy Helliwell
Featured image credit: Saipai - ‘Amaa hugging goat’