Body Language for Persuasive Video Presentations

November 2, 2013 Video Presentation Coaching


I’ve been reading some interesting psychology studies recently that deal with a concept called ’embodied cognition’. The gist of these studies is that we don’t just think with our minds, we also think with our bodies.

Most people understand the basic concept that whatever emotion we are feeling at the time, tends to be displayed in our body language. For example, if someone feels nervous, they tend to display body language consistent with the “freeze > flight > fight” stress response that I have previously written about.

If someone feels depressed or ashamed, their body language would more than likely be hunched over, diminished and small. Conversely, if someone feels excited and energized, their body language would be upright, alert and magnified.

This makes perfect sense. Our bodies reflect what we are feeling. What people may not be so aware of is that the “mind-body” link works in the opposite way as well. Did you know that the way we position and move our body has a direct influence on how we feel? Our bodies can literally “will us” into thinking and feeling a certain way.

Method Actors know this. Where possible they will try to observe and adopt the body movements and facial expressions of the type of person they are playing, as well as wear the same type of clothing in order to “get into” and “feel out” the character.

The way we position and move our body has a direct influence on how we feel. 

Here are some examples of how you can use the latest research into body language to help you to “get into the groove” when filming your video presentations:

Bigger is Better

If you want to feel more confident and powerful then you should adjust your body to adopt a powerful posture. Sit up straight, or stand tall. Take up as much space as you can with your arms and legs. Use large expansive gestures, but be very deliberate and keep them within the confines of the camera frame of course!

Making your body “act” more dominant and powerful tells your mind to start feeling more dominant and powerful too.

Speak With Your Hands

Using appropriate hand gestures has been shown to increase the persuasive power of your message. For example, if you are talking about how your product or service “increases sales”, it would be more persuasive if you pointed upwards as you were making that point to illustrate the concept. Likewise, if you are talking about “back in the past” you could point behind you. Or if you are making a call-to-action (future focus) you could gesture towards the camera.

Interestingly, studies show that if we use hand gestures when we are rehearsing and learning our scripts, we are more likely to remember and retain our messages as well.

Smile. You’re on Candid Camera!

I have written previously about the importance of a warm, genuine smile. Science has shown that the very act of smiling will make you feel happier. Yes, you can fake a smile, and studies show that even faking a smile will make you feel happier.

However, you do not want to be faking a smile in your video presentations, as viewers will detect it at a subconscious level for reasons I have outlined in my article real vs. fake smiles. Evolution has trained us to spot a fake smile to help us tell whether someone is friend or foe, telling the truth or trying to deceive us.

Instead, you need to find something to genuinely smile about. Think about someone or something that you care about that makes you happy before you push the record button.

Body Language that Influences People to Buy

Think about how you could apply the following types of movements in your video presentations; especially if you filming sales presentations, product demonstrations, internal staff communications, video interviews, video hangouts, or sharing your thought leadership online.

To persuade people to get excited and quickly take action:
  • Be animated, upbeat and eager in your video presentation
  • Lean forward
  • Move faster
  • Speak faster

But if they are not ready to buy, and you need to overcome their doubts:

  • Slow down, and be more deliberate and low key
  • Lean backward
  • Move slower
  • Speak more precisely

General Rules of Thumb

Remember: We are genetically attracted to movement – use it well in your video presentations.

In your script, don’t just plan what you are going to say, plan what you are going to do with your body language and emotions. Rehearse your action, so that it will feel more natural while you are presenting to camera.

Be very specific with your movements. Use them only to highlight a key point in your message.

Remember that overuse of any one type of movement will water down your screen presence. If everything is important; nothing is important.

Some mannerisms can be very distracting to your viewers. Often they will pay more attention to the mannerism than your actual message, thus reducing your impact.





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