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The Art of Acing Your TV Interview

Nine tips to make your experience and appearance a memorable one.

(The article was first published on Marketing in Asia)

For many businesses, one of the best ways to build your brand credibility is through earned media, whether it is on traditional print or broadcast. After working for weeks on that TV pitch, you finally nailed it! All the hard work paid off and you are given the opportunity to be on national television.

Now, it’s time to prep yourself and be ready for that big day. However, before you go on the set, there are some basic ingredients to a successful interview. Here are some tips on how to turn your interview experience into a memorable one.

Dress appropriately. Check your wardrobe. Too many checked and striped shirts? A fan of red and other too loud colours? Maybe now is a good excuse to do some shopping and invest in a new piece of plain light-coloured shirt under that blazer. Patterned shirts or tops can render oddly on the camera and distract your audience from listening to what you have to say. If you have a darker skin tone, consider a basic white or softer shades such as light blue, dusty pink, beige or lilac that will help to warm up the skin tones.

From my experience working with several spokespersons, here are some things I learned. For men, ensure that your shirt is not too big to prevent you from looking sloppy. On a similar note, shirts which are too tight is not a good idea as well unless you want to risk having your buttons pop the moment you move. Remember, being comfortable is key – so choose a well-fitted shirt and pants.

For ladies, check with the producers if the interview will be conducted sitting or standing. This will help you decide on the best attire to wear. Plain smart pants, knee-length skirts that do not roll up easily, light-coloured shirts or blouses and dark suits are good options. Add a dash of colour and apply make-up that enhances your features. Choose shades that compliment your skin tones and avoid applying too much unless you want to be looking like you are going for a night party instead. For hairstyles, don your hairdo with a simple and clean look, and for ladies with headscarves, a plain coloured one works best.

Ask for advance questions. Most producers are more than happy to share anticipated questions, so do ask for them. This way, you can better prepare the slant of the interview and the key areas for discussion. It will also help you to frame your thoughts and make your content flow better. However, do note that occasionally, the questions may not be asked in a specific order. Thus, prepare your pointers in advance. When you have got them in your head, it will help you stay calmer and prevent you from looking awkward on live TV thinking too long or humming for an answer.

Do a little research on your hosts. It is always wise to find out who the hosts or interviewers are. Look back at previous interviews they have conducted. Note on how they ask the questions to the guests in the studios. Do they grind the guests and seek deeper facts on the topic at hand? Are they the type that requires you to give additional visuals or information for better engagement? When you are familiar with their style, you will be better prepared for the interview.

Keep your points in your head well. More often than not, the producers will give you a heads-up on the length of your interview. While a 20mins segment may look generous, believe me, the time flies before you know it. Do note that the producer is looking for succinct sound bites that carry weight. Give concise points and stay focused on the topic in the discussion. When speaking, refrain from giving long phrases or answers. Providing short answers help to decrease your chances of having the sound bites cut inappropriately.

Manage your gestures and body movements. Unless you want to be seen as if you are doing a dance or martial arts movements, try to keep your hands within your torso if you need to move. Use hand gestures to prevent you from looking too stiff. Keep good eye contact with the interviewer and try not to glaze your eyes between the interviewer and the camera or worse still, stare at the camera. For those who are watching you at home, they can sense an unsettling feeling if you do that. If you were to watch a TV interview, you will notice that the guests usually are looking slightly away from the lens of the camera.

Watch your pace and tone. We all get nervous. Even the most experienced spokesperson faces that. Watch your tone of voice, pause and stop to breathe rather than rattling your answers in a stretch. If it helps, practise beforehand in front of your friends, colleagues or even a mirror.

Come early. The last thing you want to do is be late. Always find out the location of the studios, the traffic conditions to get there and the time that you need to be at the station. Some interviews require time for you to be mic’d up or have their stylists do your hair and make-up. So be early. You do not want to come in soaked in perspiration and looking flushed. Drink some water and take a quiet moment to chill before you go on set. If a quiet two minutes self-meditation helps, do it.

Spread the news and make it viral! What better way to get your earned media shared on your owned and social media platforms? It helps to raise awareness of your thought leadership and your business as well. Make it viral!

Thank your producers. This sounds really simple and straightforward. However, we are all humans and many of us let our excitement take over and forget this simple gesture. Send a note of appreciation to the producers after the interview. Continue to engage them so that they can remember you for your brand, or your expertise on the topic. Who knows, you may even be called regularly to share your views on a particular news segment or show. In time to come, you may earn yourself a reputation as a reliable thought-leader in the industry.

It takes time to build confidence to be a great TV spokesperson. Just like Rome was not built in a day, it takes time to sharpen the skill and it requires practice. The good news is that, with good coaching and media training, you can definitely improve your performance and in time to come, be confident and ready when the studio red lights come on.

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