Using body language to conquer your next video interview: A lesson from Donald Trump

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Donald Trump knows how to work the audience, with body language holding an important role in his communication. Typically, politicians are advised to remain composed with their emotions in check, particularly if facing difficult questions from journalists. However, Trump openly displays his state of mind through dynamic gestures, revealing facial expressions and then directs his message to the audience.

Emotions are revealing, they show passion in the spoken words and therefore believability. Emotions can be portrayed through the eyes, hand movements or body positioning. If you believe in what you’re saying, the audience will more likely believe you too, making you more influential. When we communicate, body language is as important as what we say. A fully prepared and rehearsed speech can fall flat if the body language doesn’t complement the speech, the message can be lost.

Luckily the majority of us are not politicians, but we may have to face the camera for interviews. When making a video for a client, we tell a story. This usually involves interviewing people involved in that story, who tell us in their own words why their company, product or service is relevant to their audience.

5 Tips to improve your body language

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. Be aware of body positioning

Before the interview the producer will position you in front of the camera so that you are framed correctly for the camera. You may be given a marker on the ground to help you stay in place.

During interview you must try to keep your feet rooted so that you stay within the frame of the camera. Be careful not to come across wooden though. Looking stiff makes you look nervous and unsure of yourself. Slouching is also a big no-no, it makes you appear like you don’t care. It also looks messy on camera and is actually more likely to make you withdraw into yourself.

2. Fidgeting hands

If you talk with your hands then go ahead, restraining yourself from what you do naturally will make you feel uncomfortable which the viewer will pick up on. Talking with your hands is expressive and can help you deliver your message.

The hands are a major culprit in revealing nerves. It is common for anxious people to feel like their hands are in the way, and they don’t know what to do with them. The worse thing you can do is fidget, it’s distracting for the viewer and makes you look like you don't want to be there. Instead, clasp your hands in front of you when you start talking. You may find that once you get going your hands will move to a more comfortable position without you realising. In some cases, it may be necessary to hold something, this is not ideal but better than fidgeting or giving the jazz hands.

3. Watch your eyes!

By projecting your line of sight down the lens (or to the producer) you are effectively speaking directly to the viewer, so it’s important to maintain eye contact as much as possible, without looking intense. This will make you look confident in your delivery, so the viewer is more likely to accept you and believe what you are saying.

Looking around can make you look suspicious or as though you are desperately searching the room for inspiration. If eye contact is difficult to maintain then just make sure that you start and finish each sentence looking at the producer. A confident start ensures the viewer judges you positively in the first few crucial seconds (when we typically form our opinions about someone). A confident finish will leave a positive imprint on the viewer when switching off.

4. Be personable

Trump gestures out to the audience using open palms, almost as though he is inviting the audience into his space. This involvement is effective in making the audience feel like his words affect them directly, they are part of the club.

To appear more personable, you should always remind yourself who you are talking to. Try not to be distracted by the camera or film crew, think of the producer as your target audience and talk to them directly. Remember why you are being interviewed, what’s the purpose and what message are you trying to deliver?

5. Fake but don’t over-bake!

Finally, if you don’t feel confident then the old saying ‘fake it till you make it’ is a great tactic to adopt. Standing tall, projecting your voice, maintaining eye contact – they all convey authority and power. In contrast don’t appear overly confident by being over animated or you will come across as being arrogant.

During your interview the producer will advise you on your body language to ensure that you deliver to the best of your ability, the more you do it the easier it gets. Be mindful of these tips and here’s to conquering your next video interview!

Photography credits:

Donald Trump’ by Gage Skidmore on Flikr

‘Interview with young girl and boys’ by Yoshikazu TAKADA on Flikr

‘Eye’ by Fabio on Flikr