Being interviewed on camera can be a nerve-wracking experience, but the right kind of preparation can be paramount to on-camera success. Whether you’re the one being interviewed or you’re helping someone prep for their turn on TV, here are some excellent, timeless interview preparation tips to help you get on your way.
1. Prepare and practice.
Being on TV under lights, wearing makeup and the anxiety associated with a live interview is an artificial environment and is stressful. You have seconds to sell your story. Prepare a list of questions you think the interviewer will ask you and use a video camera to record some practice interviews.
You can certainly ask the interviewer for a list of questions they plan to ask ahead of time, but most journalists will balk at this idea, as they want honest, unprepared responses to their questions, and it is considered unprofessional and unethical to a degree. While some outlets might provide you with the general topics they want to ask you about, don’t expect to receive a list of questions ahead of time.
Watch your recorded practice interview and have someone you trust critique your videotaped delivery also if possible. Make any adjustments you think you need to work on, and do it again. This sort of preparation will enable you to exude calm cool confidence during the actual interview and prevents a case of the “ums.”
Make sure you are clear about your subject and think carefully about the key messages you want to convey. Concentrate on three points that you want to get across – you will be surprised how quickly the time goes so anything else will be a bonus.
Understand the programs audience, research the person doing the interview and tailor your message accordingly. Make sure you have an awareness of what else is leading the news agenda in case you are sprung with a topical question on an unrelated issue.
2. Focus on what you’re saying, not on the camera.
When face-to-face with an interviewer, focus on the the person asking the questions and not on the camera. If you are at a remote location and the interviewer is not win front of you, be sure maintain eye contact with the camera lens at all times. In these cases you will be hearing the interviewer in an earpiece called an IFB, and sometimes it might be on a delay, so don’t let that throw you off.
Appear confident even if you are a nervous wreck inside. No one is going to believe in what you are saying if you don’t believe it yourself. Take a nice deep breath before you speak. Your breathing and speaking rate should be steady and calm so you have time to think about what you are saying.
You know what you’re talking about. So focus on how you deliver the goods. Pacing matters. If you rush through your spiel, you throw away your credibility. The message you deliver is: what I’m saying doesn’t really matter. Your choice of words is also key.
Simple and clear beats a multisyllabic mouthful any day. Enunciate and avoid slang at all costs.
3. Posture matters.
When sitting during an interview, lean forward around 20 degrees when you talk to open up your diaphragm, increase your air supply, prevent you from slumping and make you look engaged in the discussion. Do not let your back touch the back of your chair.
The camera exaggerates everything because there is nothing to distract the viewer. If your posture is poor, viewers will think you’ve checked out and lost interest. Your body should convey your energy and intelligence without being stiff and robotic.
4. Make your body language and tone of voice natural yet confident.
Watch your body language, as everyone else will! Television observes everything, especially posture, energy and facial expression. Watch the delivery of TV news anchors and you’ll see how much they accentuate what they say with unspoken cues.
Do whatever is necessary to help you relax before you go live — stretch, do jumping jacks, listen to music, go into the bathroom to talk to yourself. Sit in front of the camera only when you’re feeling calm, cool and collected. It will add to your confidence. Take deep breaths before you go live, and continue to breathe easily when the camera’s on. If you find yourself breathing or talking too quickly, it’s time for a break.
5. Professional training can be an ace up your sleeve!
There is no substitute for good pre-interview preparation from a team of experienced professionals. If you are serious about wanting to raise your public profile, then it is well worth investing in. Media trainers will talk through issues such as interview techniques and put you through practice interviews to camera which you can play back and learn from.
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