Monday, July 12, 2010

TV Media Training 101 - What Really Makes You Better

I don't do television very often, but I was on NBC Richmond recently for, and it was a cake walk. The producer came to my house, did the interview, filmed it, edited it and handed it over to someone else to integrate into her broadcast.

If this is a model for the future - editorial house calls are more than welcome.

As a matter of fact, all of those high-priced media trainers out there should do a live interview on television and use that as part of their presentation to new clients. That would be a great way to find those who really know what they are doing.

Anyway the person I worked with said I was very good on television. Since I've trained people how to do television, I do know what I'm doing. But I've read so many banal tips about preparing for a broadcast interview, I thought it might be useful to add a few tips of my own.

Don't Be Nervous - If you can talk to your boss, or someone several levels above you with an attitude, television is much easier. First of all most interviews these days are friendly and informative, not hostile and inflammatory unless you work for a company like BP. Most of today's news is about getting information out there that can help people do what products used to do - get things done faster, smarter, more effectively, and save money in the process. Take a deep breath, do some sort of relaxation exercise - you pick - and just have a conversation.

Not being nervous, will also get rid of the Ummmms - remember Caroline Kennedy they counted hers. I can't remember how many there were but it made her look completely unready for the role in which they'd placed her. This may have been totally false, but if it's on TV or the Internet people believe it.

Know Your Talking Points But Don't Spout Them - Talking points are just that - they are ideas to talk about not a line you recite every time you get on television or a list of stuff you must get in no matter what the questions are. Listen first. Figure out the context in which the question was asked and what your interviewer wants to hear. Breathe. Anecdotes are always better than one liners. If you want to hear over talking pointed people, watch Jon Stewart. Most executives that go on that show have a list they've memorized, and aside from an occasional burst of laughter when Stewart says something outrageous, they often come across as scripted. The same is true for Steven Colbert and the morning shows.

Watch the Show - You don't always have to but you should. See how the interviewer interacts with people, and the kinds of information that makes it to into the actual program whether its live or pre-recorded. What do they really want to get across? Then make sure you do it in an engaging way.

Connect, connect, connect - If you don't like the interviewer, the camera will slap you down. Television shows leering, snottiness, anger, drug use (no names but you know you've seen it) you name it - your facial expressions tell a story too. I'm not telling you to be super bland but be conscious of what your face, hands, and mouth are doing. This isn't just talking it's also major body language.

Look where they tell you to look - Whoever is interviewing you does this all the time and knows what to do to make you look your best. Follow the instructions. Look at the camera exactly where they tell you too - or the wall or whatever else the instructions are. Whether you are pre-recorded or live, you'll appear confident and focused. When you have a central focal point, you fidget less. That's a good thing.

Say Thank You - It may not make it on the air, but it always pays to say thank you to the interviewer while film is still rolling. Depending on what kind of show it is - the morning shows in particular - it's a requirement. When people don't say thank you or they delay the thank you they look foolish and kind of rude. It's part of that connection thing.

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