Tips for a Great TV Interview

Great news: you've landed your first TV news interview! 


One minute later: Oh my gosh....what am I going to say? What if I blather on and look like a fool? 


It happens. You get very focused on "getting yourself out there" - whether that's through social media, video content or into a TV news story - and now, you've got to come up with the goods. Your palms sweat, you feel a bit faint and think: "Oh well, I'll just talk about what I know....I do that all the time!"


Here's the thing, tho....this is "not" an all the time event. This is special. Heck, it's more concentrated and you will need to deliver on a few things: yes, you must deliver on your expertise, but you also have to be engaging, entertaining and really memorable. After all, this thing is on TAPE and can be re-used after the fateful day. 


So - let's start at the beginning to prepare you for your close up.


First, will the piece be a recorded interview or LIVE? (The producer you pitched on the idea will likely have told you which he/she wanted to go with). If it's recorded...the pressure is much less, but you'll need to prepare just the same.


If it's LIVE, that's great! But it can be frightening to be under the lights for your first time. Happily, here's our top tips to keep you cool under pressure.


1. Let the Interviewer LEAD. This is not just good manners, if you're fighting for control of the interview, the audience will pay attention to the fight and not the content. Plus - it's highly unlikely you'll be asked back. Allow the interviewer to do what they do best and focus instead on delivering powerful information in an engaging way. Don't try to be overwhelmingly charming either -- just be yourself and stay on point. Nothing builds rapport with a host more than giving the audience what has been promised.


2. Stick to your talking points. This takes discipline. You know your topic that you pitched, you've come up with three or four powerful points you want to get across. Answer the questions that are asked and then be sure to make sure you're giving the information you're there to give. If your a gardening expert, don't go off on climate change or the audience will be unlikely to trust your stated expertise - plus. you'll squander your position as expert if you're not taking your talk. 


3. Take what is given. This is a very important skill and you might need to be on TV several times before you are able to to master this discipline. If your interviewer is very stern, don't try to be too "jokey" or wacky -- it will look very uneven and your host may resent you trying to upstage him or her. In any good interview, mirroring the tone, manner and demeanor of the host is good policy -- but don't mimic. Just go with the flow and matching the same "energy" will make the audience trust you more quickly -- they already trust the host so work off that. Mirror the pace and speed of how the interviewer talks and do your best to listen and not talk over them if they speak more slowly than you do. Be yourself as much as possible within the hashmarks of what you are given by the interviewer. 


4. Watch your body language and voice. This is something that's hard to do when you're nervous but if you practice a bit, it might even help you calm down. Sit on the edge of your seat, sit up straight (or stand up straight with shoulders back), and give good eye contact (either with your host on set or with the camera if you're in a remote location). Use a strong voice, make a point and bring it to a close - no rambling. Best of all, be brief. Too many long answers and you won't have enough time for the whole interview. 


There are dozens of other points to get to but these are the basics. Next time, we'll talk about the actual message that you want to get across and how you go about developing it for the interview. 


What do you most want to know about getting on TV -- reach out