For a broadcast interview novice, the prospect of a television or radio hit can be daunting. However, broadcast is one of the most effective platforms for message promotion. Pew Research Center found that more Americans got their news in 2016 from TV and radio outlets than print newspapers, with the vast majority of U.S. adults (57%) preferring television above all other news sources. Like it or not, a degree of broadcast savvy is essential for any serious thought leadership, public affairs, or brand awareness campaign.

But fear not, future broadcast star. Whether your interview is live or taped, these top tips to prepare for a TV interview will get you camera ready and help you deliver a message that resonates with viewers in no time. 

Do Your Homework.

  • Craft talking points (actually  write them out!). Be sure to include a few easily digestible data points to substantiate your claims.
  • Ask questions. The lead-up to a TV interview is not the time to be shy. Ask the producer about the format of the interview, the layout of the studio, and specific questions the host may ask. For example, will there be other guests contributing or will the segment center on you? Will the host be seated (or even standing) next to you, or will you be filmed from a remote location with only the cameraperson in the room? These are critical questions that can completely alter your interview approach and can help minimize pre-filming jitters.
  • Look alive! Many mainstream television networks provide complimentary makeup and hairstyling services for on-air guests (yes gents, you too!). But don’t bank on this. Your interview could coincide with breaking news, which demands all stylist hands on deck, or the stylist’s day off. Find out from the producer ahead of time what, if any, services will be offered – and how early you should arrive to account for prep. If makeup and hair are not available, keep these tips in mind: wear solid colors, comb your hair, and apply some makeup (though the production team generally has some foundation lying around to even out your skin tone in a pinch).

Delivery is Key.

  • Practice your talking points in front of a mirror. The process of drafting talking points is essential to organizing your thoughts, but true broadcast stars are born in cogent delivery. Painful as it may be, scrutinizing your presentation ahead of time will help you identify potential stumbling blocks and hone your performance.
  • Be concise and use verbal cues to drive your message home. While context and personal anecdotes are important components of a compelling argument – and should be woven throughout any interview, it’s easy to lose sight of the main point along the way. If you find yourself stuck in a rabbit hole or veering off course, don’t be afraid to use pivot or summary phrases to get you back on track. Lines like, “But let me get back to what is truly important here…” and “The key takeaway for your audience to remember is…” are good ones to keep in your arsenal.
  • Speak to the host – or camera – like you’re speaking with a long-time friend. Last but not least, relax and have fun! Whether you’re being interviewed directly by the host in-studio, or facing a camera from a remote location, pretend you’re confiding in your best friend. Because if you feel at ease, you’ll look at ease.

Stay tuned for radio tips in part two of this series.