The TV Interview Tip Sheet

Here are 10 tips for Interview Preparation (for TV). These are practical suggestions for media relations pros from BurrellesLuce.

1. Bring in a coach. An outside pro can infuse the training sessions with realism— and toughness —which should help keep you off the firing line.

2. Practice on camera. That unblinking eye catches each stumble, mumble and sideways glance. Fix the problems when your audience is a dozen, not a million.

3. Control unspoken cues. Look down when a tough question is asked, and what you say next won’t matter. A spokesperson must have the control of an actor.

4. Inject key messages. Work these themes into interviews and other communications. Be ready to support them with examples and statistics.

5. Take command of your answer. This is a corollary to injecting key messages. You can’t control the questions, but you can learn to gracefully “bridge” from the question asked to the topic you’d rather discuss.

6. Have a conversation. In most situations look at the interviewer, not the camera. Try to relax and speak in a conversational tone. It’s an interview, not a speech.

7. Be ready with sound bites.
For TV especially, time is short. Develop brief, pithy statements that present your messages vividly.

8. Dress for success. Whites look too bright under TV lights and stripes can shimmer distractingly, so wear blue or beige solids. Never let them see you sweat.

9. Think past the camera to the audience.
How do viewers’ interests mesh with the interests of your company or client? Use the interview as a way to make that connection.

10. Know what the reporter is after. It’s acceptable to ask up front what the story is about and how the reporter or producer sees you fitting in.

BottomLine: Reporters often save the tough questions for last. Some will ask to go “off the record” or continue questioning after the interview seems to be finished. But watch out. Even in such unguarded moments, your answers are still official.

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