Why Body Language Matters When Authors Do Interviews

gesturing woman

Anyone can start a new podcast or publish a blog today. You’ve heard me say it before, and I’ll say it again. We are all the media now.

In addition to our own “media empires,” top tier and big brand media are still there calling to us, and everyone wants to land those opportunities. (Those who say they don’t probably don’t have the chops – and credentials – to do it anyway, so it’s easy to say they don’t care. They care.)

Media is all around us. And while it has been democratized, meaning anyone can “be the media,” being good at it is a completely different story. Having influence and capturing an audience’s attention is NOT something everyone can do. This is pitifully apparent every minute of the day.

I do not want that to be you.

If you want to land those top tier opportunities, if you want plenty of followers listening to what you say, then you have to have impact. You must be compelling. There is no way around this, so what should you be considering?

UCLA psychologist Albert Mehrabian conducted a now-famous study and found that in highly emotional one-on-one conversations, words account for just 7 percent of how the other person will form an impression of you, 38 percent comes from vocal tone, and 55 percent comes from your body language.

Let me repeat that: 55 percent comes from nonverbal communication, i.e., gestures, what you wear, your energy level, etc.

When you do an online interview on any platform, only 7 percent of the impact comes from your actual words. This means what you say is important, but not nearly as important as the way in which you say it.

Today we’re going to present more tips for pulling it off when you land some great interviews. Let’s break down some of the important components.

Be congruent

Congruence is when one’s behavior (words, tonality, physiology, etc.) matches the words and actions a person says and does. The audience won’t be able to focus on your words if you’re doing something with your voice or body that distracts them.

For example, if you’re making an important point and your voice goes up at the end of a sentence, which sounds like a question, that won’t be nearly as impactful as when you finish your sentence with your tone going down, which sounds more like a command and therefore more confident.

Secret tip: Practice being congruent by recording yourself and reviewing it over and over again to be sure everything matches up. Have a friend, spouse, or associate watch, too, and make sure they agree that you’re being congruent.

Energy level

In the early stages of doing media training with a client, I always ask them after a mock interview what their energy level was on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being low and 10 being high. The client almost always says an 8 or a 9, and yet to the viewer, whether it’s me or someone else, they almost always say a 4 or a 5. What a mismatch.

If you’ve ever zoned out while watching someone else’s TV interview, it’s because they were flat and not engaging you at all.

None of us is very good at judging our own energy level. If you question this, record yourself on audio or video with the intention of delivering high energy. Then ask someone to watch it and rate your energy level on that scale.

What feels right to you will likely look and sound flat to an audience until you’ve had some practice. Then you will be able to turn on the right energy level at the very moment you need it.

Secret tip: Start by speaking 10-15 percent louder than you normally would. It will feel strange at first, but don’t hold back. If you care about your topic, make sure others can tell just by looking at you.

Eye contact

British social psychologist Dr. Michael Argyle found that when Westerners and Europeans are in conversation, they tend to hold eye contact for an average of 61 percent of the time. Anyone displaying an overabundance of eye contact can appear very creepy.

However, when it comes to being on camera, it is a very different situation. A TV or online guest who maintains eye contact just 40-60 percent of the time communicates nervousness, defensiveness, and even a lack of trustworthiness.

Secret tip: Aim for close to 100 percent eye contact. It won’t feel natural but force yourself to do it until it becomes automatic. And remember you need to be looking into the camera lens, not the host on the screen or worse, yourself.


Your goal on camera is to appear as natural as you are in person. Someone seeing you for the first time has to feel that you’re likable, credible, professional, and someone worth their time listening to. All at a moment’s notice.

People use gestures when they speak, some more than others, but mastering this on camera is imperative. According to Vanessa Van Edwards in her book, Captivate, the least popular TED Talk presenters used an average of 272 hand gestures. The most popular TED Talkers used an average of 465 hand gestures – that’s almost double! When someone can see your hands, they feel more at ease and are more likely to befriend you.

Gesturing not only helps you look more natural but also enhances the impact of your words!

Secret tip: Practice using gestures. Record yourself and see if you can see your hands moving. Viewers can tell if someone is gesturing – even if they can’t actually see the moments because the author’s face is more expressive as a result.

There is a lot to share when it comes to interviews and body language. So much so, join me for part two in next week’s Savvy Sunday News. Until then, take good care of yourself and those you love.

To your success!


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