There are some pretty hoary clichés about how we present ourselves. “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” Or “Communication is x% the words you use, x% the tone of voice and x% body language.” Adjust the percentage figures according to taste.
But the reason they are clichés is that they are largely true, as research continues to show. In a recent study, university students were asked to look at 10 seconds of video footage of candidates in American state elections – with the sound turned down. They were then asked who they thought had been the successful candidates. They were remarkably accurate in their assessments. Interestingly, they were less accurate when they heard what the candidates were actually saying in the footage.
So, appearance and the impression you make are really important for effective communication. And all interviewees can help themselves come across well by observing the basics. Dress appropriately, scrub up nicely, keep your head straight and maintain the eyeline with the interviewer or camera, depending on the style of interview.
The key lesson for TV and radio is that anything which distracts the viewer or listener means that you are not making the most of the opportunity to get your messages across. How can you maximise your chances of doing well? Rehearse – preferably in front someone else, or a mirror if that’s not possible.
And remember, there’s no such thing as a natural. We can all improve.