Last week we covered conversational flags – have you flown one since? Here’s the link if you want to review last week’s blog. This week, we’re covering what to do with your face… your hands… and other tricky body parts that can inadvertently send a message counter to what you’re actually saying on camera. It’s another of our “go to” tips we use to coach our on-camera subject matter experts.
Let’s start with your face. In modern psychology there’s a condition known as cognitive dissonance. It’s defined as, “the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual holding two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time.” Our team applies that term to anyone on camera who is emoting one feeling, while verbally delivering a message opposite to that emotion. For example, if your CEO is genuinely thanking your workforce for an outstanding year he should look pleased. However, if he looks as if he’s mentally computing the square root of pi while saying it; that’s a problem. It’s going to impact your audience’s ability to process his intended message.
Your facial expressions must match the intent of your actual message. Otherwise, you have a visual type of cognitive dissonance resulting in a dilution of your message. If your facial expressions match your message your audience’s ability to receive, retain and act on that message is increased exponentially.
Now let’s deal with those hands. It’s quite simple. If you’re naturally demonstrative, don’t suppress those hands. If you’re naturally quite still, stay that way. Unless you’re a professional in front of the camera you can’t force a gesture to look natural unless it is. So, stick to what feels like “you.” It’s really that simple.
As for the rest of your posture, see above and repeat. Stand or sit in a way that you would if you were in a meeting, or talking to a colleague in the hall. If you’re hyper-aware of your posture you’ll come off looking like a robot on camera.
Once again this year’s Presidential campaign affords us all a perfect case study for deconstructing the public speakers that are effective, and those that appear to be robotic talking heads. Watch their faces, their hands, and their overall posture. Learn from those making it look effortless.
Stop by next week for the fourth of our top five tips. In the mean time, make faces and watch your hands. And, if you have any specific issues that you’d like me to address all you have to do is ask. Talk to you next Friday.