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Ace your next TV interview

By Suzanne Spurgeon, founder Women Media Pros/former CNN VP  August 23, 2016

Tips from a media trainer/broadcast journalist for successful TV interviews

Why should you learn to speak in sound bites (short, pithy responses) ?                

  • So you don’t get cut off in mid-response during live interviews
  • So you get more of your messaging in. It is much better to respond to 3 questions than ramble on and on and only have time to respond to a single question.
  • Rambling is a sure way to go off message
  • You are more likely to be a repeat guest if a producer sees you can provide concise, thought-worthy responses to questions

 Why should you repeat or rephrase the reporter’s question in your responses—especially during taped TV interviews?

  • So the reporter will have a complete sound bite to drop into his/her packaged report
  • Think of it as a “stand-alone” statement
  • One exception---do Not repeat a negative in your response.
    • Sample negative question: “Isn’t it true that despite advertising that your juices are all-natural, some of them have been found to contain artificial coloring and flavoring?
    • Poor answer: “It is not true that our juices contain artificial coloring and flavoring. That allegation is wrong and we are considering legal action against the people making those claims.”
    • Better answer: “Our juices are all-natural and we pride ourselves on that. We have rigorous standards and your viewers can read more about our testing process on our website (give the address).  My kids drink our juices and I want to assure parents watching that when their kids enjoy our juices, they are getting a natural product.”

 Why should you avoid stats or minute details?

  • Because viewers relate more to stories—compelling stories
  • Sometimes these details can “crawl” across the bottom of the screen during your interview; or viewers can be directed to your website for more details

 How should you prepare if a TV crew is coming to interview you at your place of business?

  • First things first. Craft your messaging and practice—but don’t try to memorize what you plan to say, word-for-word. 
  • Think like a producer. The crew will need to shoot b-roll in addition to the interview.  You sitting at your desk typing on your laptop is dull video.  Is there a place nearby for a walk-and-talk interview?   Can you demonstrate your services or products visually?  
  • Make sure co-workers/clients/customers are OK with being on-camera in the background. If not, separate them so only those who want to be videotaped will be.
  • Silence your cell phone and office phones so they don’t ring during the taping.

 Do you know what Not to wear on TV if you are an executive or business owner?

  • Anything that will distract from your messaging
    • Loud patterns
    • All white (blue is much better)
    • Very fine-lined ties/shirts/blouses that may appear wavy on camera
    • Flashy jewelry
    • Political buttons. Nice try, but unless you are booked to talk about a specific candidate, don’t mix a political message with your corporate messaging. 

 Here’s a video by Women Media Pros’ Bella Shaw on how to dress for TV

 For more media training  tips visit our website: www.WomenMediaPros



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