Preparation is key to giving successful media interviews, but if you don’t sound or look as if you care, you risk all your hard work being undone.
The latter is not just about being dressed appropriately or making sure your hair or make up are okay, it’s also about body language – your eyeline, the way you sit or stand and your facial expressions.
A classic example of how not to sit and the negative impact it can have was provided by Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, the Leader of the House of Commons, during a Brexit debate.
The Old Etonian was seen “lounging languidly” on the front bench, at times with his eyes closed, as MPs discussed plans to stop the UK leaving the EU without a deal on October 31.
Needless to say, images of Mr Rees-Mogg lying on his back in the chamber went viral and provoked a storm of criticism.
Rees-Mogg body language backlash
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas told him his body language was “so contemptuous of this House and of the people”.
She added: “The Leader of House has been spread across around three seats, lying out as if that was something very boring for him to listen to tonight.”
SNP MP Gavin Newlands commented: “Jacob Rees-Mogg is literally going for a (u)kip on the front bench.”
Angela Rayner, shadow secretary of state for education, said: “I am half expecting his nanny to march into the chamber with a blanket, pillow and a hot cup of Horlicks for the poor man!”
The MP for Redcar, Anna Turley, summed up the feelings of many when she tweeted a photo of Mr Rees Mogg with the caption: “The physical embodiment of arrogance, entitlement, disrespect and contempt for our parliament.”
Mr Rees-Mogg was not giving an interview but the debate was being shown on TV and he should have borne this in mind and at the very least sat up straight and tried to look as if he was interested in proceedings.
His failure to do so reinforced the view that he has scant regard for his political opponents and did little to win over critics of the government’s approach to Brexit.
The lesson for people giving interviews, whether for print or broadcast, is never, ever do a Rees-Mogg: don’t lounge, don’t look bored and treat the interviewer and the audience with respect.
If you don’t, you will almost certainly turn them against you and your messages, however well-crafted, will fall flat and the whole exercise will have been a complete waste of time, which is the very last thing you want.
Body language is one of the areas we cover in our media training courses. For more information about this and other courses click here.