The Right Way To Gesture For Media Interviews

I made a mistake during a recent interview. Yes, even Mr. Media Training gets it wrong sometimes, and I wanted to share my lesson learned with readers of this blog.

First, the background. I’ve already written a couple of times (here and here) about the right way to gesture during media interviews. But those articles didn’t mention one critical point about gesturing that can hurt your next interview.

In general, you should gesture naturally during media interviews and public speeches. Spokespersons who don’t gesture look unnatural, uncomfortable, and nervous.

But there’s one important caveat to that rule: Don’t over-gesture during interviews done via webcam or Skype.

Why? Because the video quality from webcams is rarely as good as standard video. Standard video is broadcast with 30 frames per second – in other words, each second of video has 30 different still shots. As every television viewer knows, the human eye perceives 30 still shots per second as constant motion.

But webcams usually capture fewer frames per second, sometimes closer to 15 frames per second. As a result, fast movements – including waving arms and moving hands – usually come out blurred, jumpy, or both. That’s a lesson I learned during a recent Skype interview, when I forgot to account for the slower technology. As a result, a few of my gestures turned out jumpy and blurred – most definitely not the image I’m going for.

Therefore, I’m going to modify my previous advice regarding gesturing.

For Standard Television Interviews: Gesture as you would naturally in everyday life.

For Webcam/Skype Interviews: Use fewer, smaller, and slower gestures. That doesn’t mean you should be stiff and passionless. But it means you’ll have to show your intensity in other ways, including expressive facial expressions and smaller, more deliberate movements.

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Related: How To Gesture For Media Interviews

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