The Eyes Have It

So - it's political party conference season. That means plenty of fuel for people like me, who love watching media interviews - and picking them apart!

As always, I just want to point out that this video doesn't reflect the political views of myself, or anyone else who works at MonkeyPants Productions. All we're doing is analysing interview technique.

Jeremy Corbyn is an interesting case study for media interviews, He can come across as a little nervous at times, and his style of speech is one that contains various bits of pauses, slight stammers and other little tics. None of them are particularly major - but together, they create an image of someone who isn't completely comfortable being interviewed.

The above interview is an excerpt of an interview Mr Corbyn did with Andrew Marr from the BBC, which was then shared by The Guardian website.

I think it was a strong interview. He clearly knew the message that he wanted to get across, he dealt with Andrew Marr pretty well - and we come away from the clip knowing what his aims are, especially when it comes to a potential General Election.

However, I've posted this clip because of something that Mr Corbyn does in the first few seconds - and it's something that can be a little distracting, and I want to make sure that if you're speaking to the media in any way, shape or form - you are aware of this particular pitfall. 

In the first 15 seconds, the camera is pretty much on Mr Corby constantly, so it's easier to spot - but watch his eyes. He blinks a little too much, which can convey nervousness - but his eyes flit from left to right almost constantly.

Now, I appreciate that this is something that you might not notice consciously, but you'll almost certainly register it on a subconscious level. Whenever you're watching someone speak, you're only paying partial attention to the words that they're saying - far more is being taken onboard from their physical cues :- the way they sit, what they do with their hands, where their eyes are looking - and it's this last one that I want to talk about here.

It's a given if you're on camera, but even if you're being interviewed for print or online media, or radio - the journalist will still want to be engaged with, so watch your eyes.

Eye contact is such a huge part of building trust in any relationship - and that even applies to interviews.

Because Mr Corbyn's eyes move from left to right and back again - that means that they're not making contact with Andrew Marr - and that's something that can affect how much we trust someone.

I know that eye contact is a major stumbling block for many people who have to give press interviews, or speak in public, but it's such an easy one to deal with. 

One way of dealing with it - is to practise. I'm not saying that Mr Corbyn should have challenged Andrew Marr to a staring contest, but he should practise even, continuous eye contact with someone at home, or someone in his media team. People don't like doing it because they fear that it can come across as a little too intense or intimidating. That's why you practise, though.

The other tip is just that - the tip of the nose. Unless you're about 2 feet away from someone, if you look at the tip of their nose, it looks like you're making eye contact. That way, you can allay that fear you have about eye contact - and the audience feel that you're a little more trustworthy because you're keeping (or looking like you're keeping) eye contact.

If you'd like help with your Media Training and interview skills, get your hands on our Essential Media Training Checklist here

Or get in touch with us to talk about how we can help you here

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.