TV Tips

By: MJ Pedone 

Working closely with our clients that are of the celebrity status, I have listed below some key tips to think about when being interviewed on TV.

 Never wing it

Plan your answers with key messages and make sure to think about the audience and their expectations beforehand. In any interview, you’re really speaking via the interviewer so know your audience.

Shaping your message

The real difference between talking to the media and talking directly to an audience, of course, comes down to control. For a speech, you pick and choose your points and timing. But for interviews, reporters will throw out the questions.

That doesn’t mean you lean back and remain passive. The idea is to get out the message you want while still responding to questions and ceding control to the reporter. At the outset, it helps to personalize the experience. Always break the ice with reporters by asking something about them — where they grew up, what their interests are, what kind of stories they have covered. Showing an interest in them makes you more likable.

Once you’ve accomplished that, here are six tips to help you master the art of getting out your preferred message.

1. Set goals for your interview. Use the OSTA rule which is: objective, strategy, tactics and audience. Everything communicated should have an OSTA plan of attack. Plan to hammer home your key messages. For interviews, keep answers — especially for TV or radio — to about 25 to 40 seconds each. 

2. Nothing is 100% off the record. Once notes are made, editors, publishers and lawyers can review them. This goes for all appearances, not just interviews. Whatever you say — anywhere — can follow you around endlessly and perhaps disastrously. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so politely.

3. Watch your body language. Even in positive interview situations, interviewees sometimes look tense or stiff, which can have a big impact on credibility.  Before on-camera interviews, speak into the mirror and deliver information on yourself.  Watch your hand language as well.  Don’t cross your arms. Be positive and genuine while being convincing.

4. Stay on track with your message. Interviewers usually can only use what you say against you. If the interview goes off track, stop it. You can ask for a break, a glass of water, a visit to the restroom. It doesn’t matter if the excuse seems lame — they will use footage of you on-camera, not off.

5. Learn how to “bridge.” This technique allows you to deflect any attempts to derail your message. “Bridging” creates a transition so that you can move from one subject to the message you want to communicate. First answer the direct question, then transition to your message. I suggest such bridging phrases as: 

  • “Before we get off that topic, let me just add…”
  • “Let me put that in perspective.”
  • “It’s important to remember that…”

6. Prepare take-aways. Always plan the points or facts you want the interviewer or audience to walk away thinking about. You might identify these points as the building blocks of your presentation. If someone else prepares your material, discuss the take-away points first. Narrow the focus. Then, to get listeners to remember you, deliver those points passionately and succinctly through analogies and re-creating experiences. (this is if you have the time)

Finally, it’s not over when it’s over. Make sure to track the results and get reviews of your performance.  Be smart and brave enough to make the necessary improvements, so you do even better next time.

As always, I welcome any comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.

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3 responses to “TV Tips

  1. Great article and info, MJ! It took me YEARS of interviews to figure out half of this stuff. Where were you when I was 20?

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