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Analyzing video clips: A useful tool, if used properly

Ed Shiller

Ed's Blog

Analyzing video clips of other people’s media interviews can be an enlightening educational experience . . . if done properly.

The benefit accrues from identifying both desirable and undesirable behaviours. You will want to project such qualities as honesty, knowledge, empathy and commitment. And you’ll want to avoid the appearance of defensiveness, evasiveness and insincerity.

And you will likely notice that some verbal and nonverbal behaviours consistently create a positive impression, while others generate negative impressions.

Some of the more common behaviours involve eye movement, hand gestures, posture, speech patterns and tone of voice.

Interjecting “ums” and “ers” when you’re searching for the right words or peppering your answers with such interjections as “like,” “you know” and “eh” can, for example, annoy or distract an audience, make the speaker appear weak and insecure, and erode his or her credibility

Looking someone squarely in the eye, on the other hand, projects strength and credibility, while avoiding eye contact implies there is something to hide.

Being a good spokesperson requires mastery of these and other behavioural attributes.

There is, however, a pitfall you’ll want to avoid when viewing other people’s video clips. And that pitfall is to mask or modify your own personality in an effort to replicate behaviours you like in others.

Instead of projecting such desirable qualities as confidence, knowledge or credibility, you will more likely appear to be shallow and phony.

Here’s an example of what I mean.

Some years ago, the newly elected leader of a provincial party was contesting his first election. This leader was generally respected as intelligent, knowledgeable and hard-working, but he also appeared bland and overly serious with an air of cool detachment.

So his handlers tried to soften his image in TV ads by dressing him informally in shirtsleeves, having him lean casually against the front of his desk and getting him to smile broadly at the end of his brief remarks.

The poor man was acting against type . . . and it showed. He looked awkward, uncomfortable, phony and unsure of himself. I’m sure this cost him votes – in sufficient quantity to ensure his defeat.

The lesson to here is simple: To give really great media interviews you’ve got to be yourself.

Proper media training addresses how to do this. Even the most poignant messaging will fall flat when not delivered with sincerity, confidence and credibility.


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