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Preparing for a TV Interview

By Suzanne Spurgeon, CEO Women Media Pros  August 6, 2019

"Where do I look?"  "Should I look directly at the camera?"  "Should I look at the person interviewing me?"  If you are new to TV interviews, you'll need the answers before the camera rolls. Today I am answering those questions and outlining the types of interview formats you may encounter.

If you get lucky a reporter will ask you "softball" questions during your media interview.  These are questions that should be easy for you to answer.  Say you are pitching a new product and the morning show host seems to love it, you can expect only softballs.

If you are being interviewed about a crisis at your company, expect hardball questions from a tough interviewer.  Or worse, a TV crew shows up at your business and pounces when you walk to your car.  That's an ambush interview and even though you may be very angry, don't show it on-camera.  Instead stall for time by saying something like, "check our website for a statement later today," and keep moving.

Other types of TV interviews include:

  • Remote--you may be interviewed live from just about anywhere.  Your interviewer will be in another location--likely a TV studio.  In this situation you'll want to look directly into the camera.
  • 2-shot interview--live or taped.  In these situations look at the person interviewing you as you would in a normal conversation.
  • The Walk & Talk interview--this creates a more casual atmosphere.  Your interviewer will be walking along side you and asking questions.  You've done this thousands of times with friends; with a reporter just be sure to stay on your talking points.  Look at the reporter but also be aware of your surroundings so you don't walk in to anything or trip.  The videographer has the hard job here--he/she has to walk backwards in front of you while shooting the video.

Regardless of the type of interview you anticipate,  hone your talking points.  You don't want to memorize them word-for-word or you may come off too rehearsed, or you could draw a blank half way through your answer and your eyes dart upwards--as if the answer is up there.

While media outlets won't give you the questions in advance, often a producer or show booker will call you and conduct a "pre-interview" so you'll be aware of topics that will likely be covered in the actual interview. If this doesn't take place, ask.  The last thing you want to do is to discover during an interview, that the subject isn't in your wheelhouse.  

Our media training sessions include messaging, camera presence, avoiding media traps, speaking in sound bites and no question is considered silly.   We want you to be your very best when it is your time in the spotlight.

(thanks to Women Media Pros' Bella Shaw, client Megan Halicek, and videographer Timothy Hart for demonstrating the walk & talk interview)

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