We’re all aware of body language and how powerful it is when we communicate on a daily basis. But in the world of PR, it is a strong signal and can provide a certain authenticity when communicating a message.
7%-38%-55% Rule: the relative impact of words, tone of voice, and body language when speaking
Did you know that 55 percent of how we communicate is displayed through non-verbal language? According to researcher Albert Mehrabian, renowned for his studies on verbal and non-verbal communication, people communicate as much as 38 percent of their message through voice (by tone and pitch) and only about 7 percent through the words they speak.
Body language can make the difference between perceived as authentic or deceitful
Humans communicate in a variety of ways: through tone, words, nonverbal behaviour, and touch. What does this mean in the fast-paced, ever changing world of public relations? Practitioners should be clued in to what non-verbal cues mean to listeners — it can make the difference between being authentic or being dismissed as deceitful.
While body language matters in all aspects of communicating on a daily basis, it takes on an even greater importance in the practice of PR—especially when dealing with the media.
Effective media training helps people understand the nuances of public speaking—specifically to the media, and how body language can have an important impact.
In addition to getting prepared for media interviews with key messages, practice your “body language” as well during your rehearsal (yes, you need to rehearse before going on camera, phone, etc.)! Body language is what the audience reads subconsciously while forming their opinions.
Body language tips when preparing for a media interview
With this in mind, here are a few important body language tips:
- Give good eye contact. They say the eyes are the window to the soul; in this case it certainly gives the speaker the credibility and honesty needed to deliver a message.
- Maintain good posture. It conveys confidence and an aura of authority; it also helps you as a speaker to project well and stay centered while speaking.
- Maintain a positive expression—if it’s appropriate. While you don’t want to be constantly grinning ear to ear—especially if you are being asked tough, negative questions, it’s important to convey a sense of enthusiasm and energy while speaking.
- Don’t nod in agreement with a reporter’s question—if you don’t agree. Try to maintain neutral while being asked a question. As someone being interviewed, you may have a tendency to nod while a reporter is asking the question. Do you agree? Maybe. But if it’s a negative question and you’ll be responding that way—don’t nod in agreement with the reporter’s question—it will look like you’re agreeing with what they are stating.
- Body language also extends to dress and appearance, so always be sure to look sharp and professional when delivering your message. Avoid patterned clothes and large accessories that can distract. Blue is typically a good bet.
The bottom line? Being mindful of body language can influence how others perceive you, as well as outcomes.
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