Television Interview Tips
When you receive the call from a television producer, consider this pre-interview an audition. Never take this stage for granted and only agree to a pre-interview once you know how you want to respond. Never agree to an immediate telephone interview. Simply make arrangements to call the representative back at a mutually agreed upon time. Give yourself a few minutes to consider your theme and your major points and stick to them.
There are generally four types of questions you will face:
Gives you the opportunity to expand on your previous statement. Use this time to go into further detail or illustration.
Question you would rather not answer. You must answer it. Acknowledge the question, repeat key parts in positive terms, then, bridge it into a key point you want to make.
You pose the question back to the interviewer. Respond to the question, then ask a question, extended from that initial question, and point it to either the interviewer or the audience.
Asks factual data. Answer the question and follow up with key points.
- Define your objectives.
List the three most important messages you want to deliver. Support each main point with three or four subpoints if time allows (usually in ten-second sound bites).
- State the most important facts immediately.
Put key points at the beginning so they're clear and isolated, then, elaborate as time permits.
- Keep answers brief.
Long answers often make the interviewee appear nervous or anxious.
- Use crisp, quotable statements.
A quotable statement can merit additional coverage in the next morning's newspaper. Say it and pause. Practice it.
- Check in advance how much air-time you will get.
You will then be able to better plan responses and objectives. The average evening news show allots no more than 40-45 seconds. Talk shows may let you have 8-12 minutes.
- Maintain control. This includes posture, body language, and eye contact.
- Be on guard. Always assume the microphone is on.
- Establish eye contact with the interviewer. Do not let your eyes wander. The camera will pick up shifting eyes, making you appear uncomfortable, defensive, and unsure of yourself.
- Watch your non-verbal communication. Studies indicate that only seven percent of a speaker's message is communicated by the spoken word. The rest is dependent on the quality of the delivery ( body language and tone of voice.
- Distract audience, i.e. blow nose, drink water, fix hair.
- Assume that the reporter's off-camera personality and demeanor will extend on-camera. A deferential, polite reporter off-camera may well be setting you up for a thorough grilling on-camera.
- Watch the monitor (the television set visible to you in the studio).
- Drink alcohol or smoke prior to your interview. Also avoid carbonated drinks; they can affect your speaking voice.
- Eat large meals before your interview.