I’ve spent most of my career behind the camera, coaching physicians and execs on successful media appearances. Interestingly, the camera has turned in my direction the last couple of years and I’ve had to literally practice what I preach.
Whether the media tracks you down for your take on a current story or bites at one of your pitches, here are a few tips I’ve learned to help you prepare:
1. Know your content – This is not the time to “wing it.” Prepare for your interview by jotting down the top three messages you hope to cover. Then rehearse them, out loud, before the interview. The more you practice saying them, the more easily they will roll off your tongue in the interview.
If you’ll be demonstrating products on TV, rehearse with them repeatedly until you feel very comfortable. If you need to recall multiple names or product specs, write notes on individual index cards you can hide behind the items on the set.
2. Look your best - For TV, dress to your topic. When I’m presenting on parenting or lifestyle topics, I change out of my corporate business attire and put on (dressy) jeans and a nice top. If you typically work out of your home and are asked to speak to your industry, dress as if you are meeting a potential client (because you are in fact meeting thousands of them at once).
Have a few days to prepare? Get a haircut and a manicure, especially if you’ll be demonstrating something with your hands. Don’t be afraid to wear bright colors, but avoid patterns – men, that includes your tie (patterns do funky things on camera). Opt for bold, chunky jewelry or a dramatic scarf.
Also, ladies, studio lights can really wash you out, so wear your make up a bit heavier than usual. You’ll want powder or foundation for a base, blush, eye make-up & definitely wear lipstick with some color! Bring your make-up with you and touch up right before your interview.
3. Smile, smile, smile - It’s common for people to freeze up on camera. Unless you are being interviewed by investigative reporters, I promise the reporters and producers want you to succeed – no one is trying to stump you! The best way to look (and sound) comfortable, engaging and friendly in your interview is to smile – this works for both TV and radio. It may sound simple, but most people don’t think to smile when they are nervous. So smile while you talk and while you listen.
4. Make sure they know who you are - Before your interview, write clearly on a blank piece of paper:
- your name
- your web site (it’s ok to leave off the www)
Don’t just hand them your business card or spell your name for them when they ask. Hand them the piece of paper and say “Here you go, I wrote it down for you” or “Here is how I’d like you to write my name.”
Remember, there are only 2 lines for text and they want it to look clean. If you don’t tell them how to write about you, they’ll come up with something for you (I have stories) and then you’ll be bummed you didn’t get your web site in the spot.
5. Offer bonus content - Your goal is to provide useful information for the interview, but you’ll be a rock star if you offer additional tips or resources on your blog. Tell the journalist in advance, but don’t be afraid to bring it up if they don’t. This will give people a reason to visit your site. It will also give the news crew a reason to link to you from their web site. Believe me, you’ll see it in your traffic. Then, make sure you have that content ready and at the top of your site before your appearance.
Of course, have fun and don’t be shy about asking for a picture on the set or with the interviewer. They are used to it and usually happy to oblige.
Have you been on TV? What are your favorite tips? What did I miss?