People being interviewed on television are often concerned about details of their appearance – what tie to wear, what jewellery to choose, whether a haircut is needed. But they often forget the most important feature of their appearance – their eyes.
The eyes are the most telling feature of any TV interviewee’s face. They will send a very clear message to the audience about the level of the speaker’s competence and confidence.
A steady, firm gaze to the interviewer (or to the camera, in the case of a down-the-line interview) will add force and authority to any reply. It underlines for the audience the importance of the reply, and offers proof of the speaker’s knowledge and trustworthiness.
If on the other hand the interviewee’s eyes dodge away, seemingly looking for help beyond the interview set-up, it conveys an immediate impression of uncertainty, discomfort, even perhaps untrustworthiness.
The problem is that in ordinary conversation we naturally change our eye line frequently, looking upwards for example while listening, or dropping our eyes while formulating an answer. Unfortunately, in close-up on television, those eye movements can give a very different impression.
It can of course feel uncomfortable to be gazing into a stranger’s eyes for three or four minutes. In that case, look at the interviewer’s forehead. To the audience, it will simply convey commitment, adding further impact to your replies.