Years ago in a far, far away land called the 1990s I was on television. Don’t believe me? Just check with Sallie Mae (I refuse to call her Navient) and the remaining bill I owe on my student loan for a degree from the illustrious University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. Anywho, from age eight I’ve known I wanted to be on television as a reporter or anchor. And I was. It was wild and crazy, productively fun ride.
Now I’ve moved on to other ventures, but the television bug still bites me a time or two, especially when I see an athelete, politician, spiritual leader, event host or random eye witness unaware of the power of the big screen, and they say something, do something or wear something which takes away from his/her intended message. (i.e. some of our favorite infamous social media clips).
Anywho again, I decided several years ago to help people who want or need help getting on television or preparing to be on television. So I offer these tips to help you during live or taped television interviews…
- Be stylish, but simple. Shy away from busy patterns (flashy colors, houndstooth and stripes especially).
- Dress neatly, professionally or in a manner that’s appropriate for what you are being interviewed on.
- Don’t wear jewelry and accessories that make noise.
Watch your face.
- Studio lights can be cruel. Take care of the shine on your cheeks, nose and forehead.
- Do a double check in the mirror for little unsightly nuggets nestled between your teeth, or other facial features.
- Men, don’t be afraid to powder your nose or balding head.
Less is more, more or less.
- Make sure you answer questions in complete sentences, passionately and thoroughly, but keep answers short enough to make the cut.
- The average sound bite is 12-15 seconds.
Be yourself. Be your best.
- Relax, speaking naturally, clearly and authentically.
- Use correct grammar, watching for the “uummms”, “you know?” and other things you know you do (or others know you do and need to tell you that you do so you won’t do them.)
Look at me.
- Never look into the camera unless specifically asked to do so.
- Look at the reporter or anchor when responding to questions.
- Be mindful of frowning, squinting, and looking into the wrong camera or wrong direction.
If you don’t know don’t say.
- If you don’t have the answer to a question it’s acceptable to say so.
Don’t forget your business.
- Be sure to make mention of any needed dates, times, phone numbers or contact information during the interview.
- Mention your organization’s name as often, and appropriately as possible.
Don’t ask to see a copy of the tape after you’re done, and try to avoid asking for a list of the questions just prior to the interview.
Stay away from acronyms, spiritual catch phrases and colloquialisms only known to or understood by you and yours.
Silence all electronic gadgets.
Be careful of live mics. Don’t speak unless asked to do so.
Don’t take too many people with you to the interview.
Come dressed for the interview unless it has been expressed that you may get ready at the studio.
Take a deep breath…and get ready for Lights, Camera, Action!