Why Body Language Matters for Authors, Part 2

Dana Manciagli

Last week we talked about the importance of body language during an interview. Because 55% of our communication is nonverbal, it means how you say something and how you look when you’re saying it matters more than the actual content itself. If you missed this post you can read it here.

Whether one likes hearing this or not is beside the point. Knowing it can help you present your best, most effective self while on camera.

Here are some more tips for doing interviews effectively:

Overcoming fear:

Everyone gets butterflies before a performance and doing media interviews is no different. You want to convey your message, do it well, and look good while delivering it.

Over the years I’ve worked with many authors at various stages of development through media training. The one tip that is most impactful when embraced is this:

The interview is not about you.

It’s not about you; it’s about the audience…their lives, their needs, and their concerns.

As you’re about to start an interview, think of the one person you most want to reach with your message. This doesn’t have to be an actual person, but a version of who your ideal client or customer is. Speak directly to them. What are their concerns? How can you help them?

It’s very hard to be focused on yourself and your own fears when you are focused on those you can help.

Other helpful tips: 

  • Do practice interviews.
  • Remember that just because you feel nervous doesn’t mean anyone can see it.
  • Remember to breathe.
  • Stay in the moment.


There is nothing worse than watching an online camera or television interview and the guest looks so laid back it’s as if they don’t even want to be there. Their intention may be to look comfortable and relaxed but they actually come off looking arrogant, unconcerned, or uncaring. That’s what their body language is saying and that accounts for 55% of the impact. We don’t want that to be you.

Let’s do a test right now.

Go ahead and slump back in your chair and just let go so that you’re good and comfortable.

Now try to gesture enthusiastically.

How did that feel? Were you feeling up, and happy and motivated to give a great interview? Probably not.

Now, try this. Sit up straight and shift yourself forward so your behind no longer touches the back of the chair. In fact, you’re on the edge of the chair. Lean forward a bit (Not too much. You don’t want to look like you’re going to lunge at the host.), and have your feet planted on the floor.

Now try gesturing enthusiastically again.

How did that feel? Better? I’m pretty confident that it did. It’s more natural, authentic, and less forced than in the last scenario.

Even very small adjustments can make a huge difference in how you come across. And there are a lot of them. This was just an example. Take it to heart.

Be yourself:

People often say, “Just be yourself,” regarding a variety of situations. This advice applies to doing interviews too, but not your real self “under quarantine, sitting at home in your sweatpants, eating potato chips.”

I’m being funny with this example because I know you would pull yourself together to look your best when giving an on-camera interview. However, occasionally I hear someone say that to do mock interviews or to rehearse anything feels inauthentic and fake.

That just means they haven’t learned how to use these powerful tools yet.

Only when you practice and get your messages down perfectly can you begin to ad-lib a bit and play with how you express yourself.

It’s like playing music. You learn the scales and other techniques first, and then you can begin to add your own spice and variation to the song. Doing interviews is similar in that you need to learn to be effective with messaging, body language, the sound of your voice, etc., and only then can you begin to ad-lib some. Otherwise, an interview can go off into the weeds, and you don’t want that.

Being authentic and yourself doesn’t mean not preparing and putting your best self forward. It means knowing the mechanics of doing interviews and your messages so that you can come across as credible and very comfortable in your own skin.

Your voice:

As we’ve said with regard to communication 55% is nonverbal, 7% is what you actually say, and 38% is from your voice. You will find it here.

When it comes to vocal delivery, keep these things in mind:

Tone: Tone adds emotion to words. You are not a robot. The audience needs to feel some emotion from you and the tone of your voice can do this beautifully.

Pitch: When people are nervous their pitch tends to go up and too high. Make a conscious effort to keep yours low and within its normal range.

Volume: A soft voice increases intimacy and drama while a loud voice projects excitement.

Pace: We’ve talked about this before, and it’s worth saying again. Slow down.

Pauses: There is nothing like a well-placed pause to make a huge impact. Use them before or after making a key point. Use this sparingly though. You don’t want to create an annoying habit with this technique.

Lazy voice: This is when people speak without using their diaphragm. Instead of projecting out, their voice sounds very gravelly and guttural as if it’s coming right from their throat. It’s a bad and lazy habit that a fair number of people have, so if that’s you it’s time to break it.

Dressing for the camera:

Don’t get too fancy because that can be very distracting. I know it’s tempting to go all out for these appearances, but you must remember that being on camera is very different from being on stage.

There was a day when certain colors and patterns were an absolute no-no for on camera, but some of that is changing. Still, this is not the time to experiment with some new outfit. Plain colors and patterns that don’t do anything will work the best.

Be sure what you wear doesn’t clash with the set or match the chroma key screen or part of you will disappear on camera. These are called green screens, and while they come in different colors, you don’t want to match it. You can do this by looking at the set online, or asking the producer about it.

Bad habits:

I once had a client who had a habit of running her hands and arms up and down her legs while doing interviews. The very first media training we did I had to stop the camera and ask her about it. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” was the response I got. So we played back the tape and that was when she saw it as plain as day.

We do things unconsciously, particularly if we’re a little nervous, so make sure someone does some mock interviewing with you to discover if you have any unconscious bad habits that you need to break.

Bottom line:

You can come across great on camera simply by paying attention to these tips as well as those mentioned in our last Savvy Sunday News. Body language matters. It’s 55% of your message, and your voice and the way you speak is another 38%. It’s time to really pay attention to it so that you can come across as the warm and wonderful author that you are!

To your success!


P.S. The Media Breakthrough Package is filled with information on how to become a Media Darling. You can check it out here.








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