More Tips on How to Be a
Spokesperson on TV
By Marsha Friedman
Now let me share the next 10
tips that will help you capitalize on the valuable air-time at your
disposal, when you appear as a guest.
Be mindful of what you wear.
If you have a favorite plaid dress, checkered suit
or white blouse keep it in the closet the day of your interview!
Small and detailed patterns have the propensity to look like they’re
vibrating on-camera while white clothing can be problematic with
lighting. Instead, try wearing dark or neutral colored solids as
they will create a distinct outline on-screen. Also, be sure to
seek out shades that complement your skin tone, hair and eye color
so you don’t look washed out. Once you find the right attire, give
it the once over and make sure there are no missing buttons or stray
threads. You want your appearance to reflect the high level of
professionalism and expertise you bring to the table.
Remove the clutter
from your environment.
If a television crew is
scheduled to interview you at your office or home, make sure the
space is clean and orderly and a picture of professionalism!
Looking organized adds to your credibility. Also make sure your
desk and bookshelves are cleared of any overly personal items or
knick-knacks that could distract from the interview. I know that
religious, sports or political paraphernalia may be near and dear to
your hearts – but, if your audience doesn’t share your allegiance,
they may be turned off to you before you even open your mouth.
3) Silence noises and
Before your interview, silence
as many ‘noise-makers’ as possible. Make sure to turn off your cell
phone and turn down the ringer on your landlines. And, don’t forget
to turn off the speakers on your computer. There’s nothing worse
than being interrupted mid-sentence by the “pings” of new emails or
instant messages. Now about those potential interruptions - if
you’re at the office, let all of your colleagues know about the
interview beforehand, not for bragging rights necessarily – but
because you don’t want people barging into your office during the
interview! These same rules apply at home. But, of course at home
we have other potential interruptions to think about – our children
and of course our loving pets. Create a safe, and quiet, space for
them during your interview - out of the camera’s way! Go one step
further and put a sign on your front door asking that people refrain
from knocking or ringing the doorbell. In the end you don’t want any
loud or unexpected interruptions to ruin a good sound-bite!
The camera is always on.
No matter where you are being interviewed, always assume the camera
and your microphone is on unless you are told otherwise by the
crew. An interview is not over until you are given a clear
instruction by the floor manager that it is. If you don’t, your
snarky comments, eye rolls or yawns will be seen by your audience
and then watch your credibility crumble! Remember the CNN anchor who
was unwittingly broadcasting from the ladies room because her mic
was still on? Talk about an embarrassing pit stop!
Listen to and follow the crew’s
instructions. No one knows the “ins and
outs” of the show you’re appearing on better than that show’s crew.
Trust these men and women to lead you through the interview, and
they will ensure that you sound, and look, great! Take their advice
to heart - these people are experts in creating the perfect setting
and making your conversation with the host(s) come across as natural
as possible. And remember, the camera already adds extra pounds, so
don’t ignore the photographer’s suggestions or you could end up
looking larger than you want!
Don’t overdo the makeup ladies…and
Yes, both women and
men are repeat offenders in the “too much makeup” category. If you
have an on-set interview, don’t go to the station with a full face
of makeup. Most shows are prepared to give you a quick once-over.
If you’re being interviewed outside, your makeup should look normal
and everyday. Shallow as it may sound, it’s hard for viewers to
take you seriously if they’re too busy zeroing in on a face that’s
7) Check your props.
As TV is all about visuals (no matter what your topic is) it’s more
than likely you’ll have some kind of props for your interview. The
trick is to take stock of them before the interview to make sure
they’re in good shape (no tattered edges) and that all parts are in
tact. For example, if you’re doing a cooking segment and will be
using their stove – make sure you’re familiar with it. If you’re
conducting a “how-to” demonstration, make sure all of your equipment
and tools are clean and at the ready. If you require electricity
for your demonstration, make sure there are available outlets and
you test them before the interview. You want to make sure
everything you need for your interview is in top shape and working
order. If your prop is your book, take it on-air and hold it on
your lap with the front cover facing the audience. Props are a
great way to interest an audience, so make sure you use them
8) Stay seated!
your interview draws to a close and it appears that the camera has
stopped focusing on you, don’t take off your mic! When your
interview is over, it’s the job of the floor manager to help you
take off the mic – and give you the all clear - at which time you’re
free to go. By leaving before instructed you could run the risk of
ruining a perfectly good camera shot while coming off as
unprofessional and confused. By sitting until given the cue, you
will ensure that your interview has a clean cut ending.
9) Speak in a conversational manner.
The best interviews are those where you sound very natural. When
people get nervous about being on camera, they tend to speak too
fast and sometimes tense up so their breathing doesn’t sound natural
- all of which can be very distracting for the audience. To combat
this – first thing to do when you arrive at the studio is look
around and get as familiar with the room as possible. Introduce
yourself to not only the host and producer, but the camera men as
well. Make yourself comfortable as you would in any new and strange
environment. When the cameras are on, listen carefully to the
questions being asked and try to answer as you would in any normal
conversation. Having a natural conversation will make you look
like the ultimate pro!
10) No arguing!
Your goal as a guest is to win
over the audience; something that can be tricky if a question makes
you feel angry or combative. And that can happen, especially if
your topic is controversial. If you’ve been ambushed with a nasty
question, remain dignified and answer calmly. Losing your temper
won’t boost your credibility; plus, it makes you look defensive
which is definitely not the way to promote your message.
11) Share Valuable Information.
To build your credibility and
keep the attention of the audience make sure to concisely present
information that is of value to them. Fully develop quality sound
bites before the interview, making sure to omit any unnecessary
information, or "segment clutter." Remember that the audience can
only digest so much during a 5 minute segment, so don't overload
them with useless information. If you provide quality the audience
will surely "stay tuned."
12) Remember Important Names.
This is a fundamental rule. Make sure you know and remember the
name of the producer that you booked the interview with and the host
that will be interviewing you. Its good manners and shows respect
for them and their position. If you forget the host's name when you
are on-air you will not only look foolish, but the chances of you
being asked back may be greatly reduced.
Don't Sound Like an Infomercial. Your goal as a guest is to
communicate the message of your book in an engaging fashion while
tactfully mentioning your book's title or company name as well.
Mention this often enough so that it is impressed on the minds of
the audience, but not in a way that will sound like an infomercial.
Be sure to plug in a natural and tactful way.
Do Your Homework…Use the Web. With a few exceptions, most
television stations have a website full of valuable information
about their anchors and shows. Do a web search using the shows
name, the station call letters and/or city as your keywords and you
will find the official site. If the show is strictly a morning news
format, you will be able to learn more about the hosts in addition
to being able to watch some previous interviews. Afternoon formats
generally have host information as well as segment videos in order
for you to get a feel for the format of the show. This research
will help you prepare for a good interview.
Develop and Use Visuals.
Before you start pitching, think about
what sort of tips, statistics, graphs, on-air demonstrations, or
pictures that will really bring your message to life…visually.
Remember that TV is an interactive medium and producers relay on
visual elements during guest segments. To grab the attention of the
overworked and over-saturated producer, design and present your
own. This is a great way to land an appearance, and once you are
on-air it is a great way to engage the audience in your message.
Read other articles and learn more
about Marsha Friedman.
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