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Navigating Media Interviews: Mastering Non-Verbal Cues
Kristina B

Publisher : Kristina B

Navigating Media Interviews: Mastering Non-Verbal Cues

Media interactions are pivotal in shaping public perceptions of business leaders and organizations. Even if you’re confident about your expertise, conveying what you know clearly and directly, without leaving room for misinterpretation, is a skill not everyone has.
If you are someone who gives press briefings, get some media training. A media training coach will help you practice fielding questions from members of the press and become proficient in non-verbal communication.
The following are 10 of the most important non-verbal cues you need to master.

1. Eye Contact

 Eye contact demonstrates attentiveness and confidence. It’s a tool you can use to say, “I'm listening to you, and I’m not hiding anything.”
During media interviews, remember to do the following :
* Maintain steady eye contact with the interviewer, but don’t forget to blink naturally.
* When addressing a group, periodically shift your gaze from one person to another until you’ve made eye contact with everyone.
* Avoid fixing your stare at someone in the audience or a particular object.
* Avoid looking away for extended periods (e.g., looking at the side, your notes, the blank space at the back of the room, etc.)


2. Facial Expressions

Your facial expressions reinforce the words you're saying. They can convey emotions and enhance (or contradict) your verbal messages.
When you say you commiserate with someone, your facial expression must mirror the sentiment. Otherwise, you will come across as insincere, and your statement will be ineffective.
Remember these facial expression tips :
* Try delivering your media briefings in front of a mirror to see what your face looks like when you speak.
* Keep your expressions genuine. It’s better to have a blank face than for you to show forced gaiety or fake solemnity.
* Practice a relaxed, neutral facial expression. Avoid grimacing or excessive smiling.
* Be aware of frowns or looks of confusion; they can imply disagreement or misunderstanding.
* Understand that even when you mean something, your face may not reflect your sincerity. This is why practice matters a lot when it comes to facial expressions.

3. Posture

Your body posture signals your level of confidence and authority. Confident people stand straight and firmly.
The next time you face the press, remember to :
* Sit or stand straight, but keep your body loose and relaxed.
* Do not cross your arms in front of your body as you may come across as defensive or timid.
* Avoid slouching or leaning heavily on one side.
* When seated, lean slightly forward to show engagement with the interviewer. Keep both feet flat on the ground.
* While standing, distribute your weight evenly to avoid swaying.
* Resist the urge to tap your foot, as it can signal nervousness.

4. Gestures

Gestures can add energy to your communication, reinforce your message, direct attention, and add emphasis as needed.
In your next media appearance, remember the following tips :
* Keep your hands visible. Do not hide them inside your pockets or behind your back.
* Use hand gestures to reinforce your point, but be purposeful.
* You can tilt your head slightly to indicate active listening.
* Avoid excessive nodding, which might seem insincere or impatient.
* Make sure your gestures are consistent with your message and facial expression.
* Avoid over-gesticulating and repetitive movements.
* Keep your hands away from your face and hair.

5. Proximity

Your proximity to your interviewer can convey your comfort level and engagement with the interviewer.
If you can dictate your distance to the members of the press, remember to :
* Respect personal space. Don’t lean in too closely.
* For panel interviews, be conscious of the distance between you and your interviewers when turning to address different panelists.
* Adjust your distance based on cultural norms and specific circumstances.
Personal spaces may be bigger or smaller depending on the culture, how the interview is conducted and the venue.

6. Tone of Voice

Your tone can add depth or gravitas to your words and reinforce the certainty, passion or concern you're verbalizing. You can sound excited and cheerful or serious and grave, depending on your tone.

Tone of Voice 

Suppose you’re the managing director of a second citizenship agency addressing the press about the stricter citizenship by investment program guidelines laid down by the European Union. In this case, you know you cannot be all chirpy. Instead, you must go for a serious, all-business tone.
The following are a few general guidelines to follow when it comes to tone :
* Keep a steady and clear tone, but avoid monotony.
* Adjust your volume based on the noise level and size of the room.
* Practice varying your pitch and pace according to your message.

7. Listening

Just as speaking is a critical communication skill, listening is also crucial when giving interviews. It shows respect and understanding. More importantly, you need to listen to understand questions (including their nuances) better.
Become better at listening by following these tips :
* Do not interrupt the interviewer, not even if inspiration has struck and you have a ready answer. Always let the interviewer finish saying their piece.
* Nod occasionally to show you’re following along.
* You can summarize what you think the question is before you answer and, with your facial expression and body language, seek confirmation that it is indeed the question. This can help you avoid misinterpretations that might lead to you making the wrong response, which can be embarrassing or, worse, controversial and offensive.

8. Use of Space

Aside from your posture, your use of space can communicate your confidence and establish your presence.
The next time you must do a media briefing, follow these tips :
* When standing, avoid pacing, but feel free to move a step or two when you need to emphasize something.
* Use props, like a pointer or a presentation remote, to increase engagement and direct attention, but do this sparingly and with purpose.
Note that the number and types of movement you can make will depend on the space you have, the subject under discussion and the interview or presentation format.

9. Breathing

Steady breathing conveys calmness and control.
Follow these tips to stay relaxed during an interview :
* Breathe from your diaphragm rather than your chest. This is more relaxing and has the added benefit of steadying your voice.
* Avoid holding your breath, especially when faced with challenging questions.
* Use breaths as natural pauses to gather your thoughts.

10. Mirroring

Subtly mimicking an interviewer's gestures or posture can help foster rapport.
You can apply these tips for effective mirroring:
* Keep mirroring subtle. Do not copy every gesture, or your mirroring can be misinterpreted as mockery.
* If the interviewer leans forward slightly, you can do the same to show engagement.
* Mimic the energy or mood of the room, adjusting your demeanor accordingly.

Mastering Non-Verbal Cues

Non-verbal cues provide context to your words. By mastering them, you can ensure that in your next media interview, you are clear, compelling and credible.