Sometimes, as a PR professional, you will be called upon to either do a television interview or to prep your client for a television interview. Here are five quick tips for a successful interview on camera.
1.Watch your movement
Something almost unnoticeable face-to-face can become a focal point on camera. Rocking back and forth in the chair, tapping your foot, wiggling, touching your face: all of these are habits many of us develop when we are thinking or speaking. These minor habits will become big, embarrassing distractions if you’re not careful.
Make sure you are aware of your body and body language. Sit straight up in the chair and lean forward slightly to show interest. If you are standing up, make sure to stand comfortable position so you don’t feel the need to rock side to side or switch your stance repeatedly.
2. Smile for the camera
Along with appropriate body language, make sure to have the appropriate facial expression. Usually, this is a polite and interested smile or a “pleasant” face. Be careful not to look up when you are thinking or to make other strange facial quirks that may be appropriate when speaking with friends or co-workers, but will hurt your reputation on national television such as rolling your eyes.
However, sometimes the interview will be very serious and a smile would be inappropriate. Consider the subject matter and what emotion you would like your audience to perceive.
The last thing you want is to be seen as unprepared or unfit for your position. Not knowing how to answer a question is human, but try to minimize this by preparing for the questions you will be asked. Don’t be afraid to ask the person requiring an interview what kinds of questions will be asked and what subject matter will be covered. Also try to find out who will be interviewing you. Some journalists have very specific interview styles and this may lead to clues to the kinds of questions they will ask.
Will they play hardball with you? Bring up the company’s embarrassing past mistakes? Ask what your client thinks about touchy subjects like gay marriage? You must try to prepare for the questions and for the chance to turn the interview back to your key messages.
4. Don’t forget your key message
Any interview you or your client commit to must have a purpose. What do you want the viewers to take away from the interview? You should not have more than three key messages. These messages should be easy to remember and to understand.
If an interviewer starts asking questions that threaten to take you too far off-track without delivering your key message, find a way to link back to the key message.
Here is an example. Bush was being asked about whether or not he knew that people were being tortured under his authority. Bush’s key message was: there was no torture. Observe how he avoids the question by answering a different question, dodges around the answer, and eventually switches the interview around to make it seem like the interviewer is the bad guy because Bush is protecting him and he has the nerve to question that.
Now that was an over-the-top example. There are ways to turn an interview around without becoming loud, which include blending the key message into the answer (answering the question in a way that you can tack your message seamlessly onto the end).
Whatever you do, keep your cool. Even if you only lose it once, it will overshadow any good things that were said prior. Just ask Bill Clinton.
5. Third time is the charm
In general, anything you want the audience to remember should be mentioned at least three times. Make sure to say your message more than once, but in a different way, so that your key audience is sure to receive it. Remember the phrase “say what you’re going to say, say it, then say what you just said”, which is useful in speeches and presentations as well.
Do you have any tips?
These are just five tips and there are many more. Do you have any other recommendations for people preparing themselves or their clients for a t.v. interview?