An interview with a local television station, whether live or taped, can be a great way to put your business in the spotlight. With thousands of viewers watching and potential future connections with local journalists, it can be a great opportunity for valuable, usually free, publicity. To capitalize on that opportunity, however, you may need to overcome that sometimes intimidating camera lens. It might seem a little nerve wracking, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are six practices for a better polished television interview.
- Forget the camera is there. Easier said than done, of course, but not impossible. Generally, you will not be looking straight-on into a camera. You will be speaking to a reporter or host who is asking questions. The camera operator is going to direct you not to look at the camera, but look at the person who is speaking to you, just as you would in a normal conversation. Focus on talking to that person. Listen to them and respond to them.
- Take a deep breath and relax. Pre-taped interviews allow for a beautiful thing known as editing. If you stumble or say the wrong thing, simply stop and begin again. This isn’t a problem for the journalist, and they won’t think any less of you. He or she would rather have your complete, accurate thought.
In a live interview, take a deep breath, try to relax, and stick to the basics. Glance at a few brief notes if needed. In a studio situation, if you provide the show producer with a few bullet points or a graphic to put up on the screen, they may choose to add that to the production, which will take the attention off you for a moment.
- Broadcast TV is all about time – and it will fly by. Depending on how you look at it, this could be a good or a bad thing. A live interview, in most situations, is not going to last more than a few minutes. The journalist or host will ask a few questions, you’ll give a few succinct, informative answers, and in the blink of an eye, it’s over.
If you’re talking to a journalist for a story to air as a segment during a newscast, you will appear on TV for even less time. Your interview may last several minutes, but the journalist is likely trying to compress a lot of information into a minute and a half. This is where editing definitely comes into play. A journalist must select only the best answers, or the most pertinent ones, to include. He may also have to cut a response to make it shorter for timing purposes, or summarize what you say in their voice over to add the information to the story in a more succinct way or help it move along. It isn’t an attempt to editorialize – simply to meet their time constraints.
- Be succinct. Given that time is a valuable commodity, keep your answers as tight as possible. A journalist, in most situations, cannot run a 30-second answer or explanation. Most sound bites in a reporter segment run less than 10 seconds, maybe up to 15 seconds if it is particularly informative or emotional.
- Be conversational. Remember that you’re talking to a large audience with a wide range of knowledge, education, interests and experiences. When it’s tempting to use terminology that’s only understood within your field, explain it using everyday phrases instead. Avoid big or uncommonly used words. Keep it simple. In a live interview setting, try to avoid talking on and on, but allow the host or reporter time to ask follow-up questions and interact with you.
- Provide additional information. With only a short amount of time to share your message, you may not be able to fit in everything you want to say in your responses or you may have to give so many details that it will be difficult for viewers to keep track of everything, especially if it involves a lot of numbers.
In a live interview situation, unless it’s an on-the-spot request where you don’t have a heads-up, it’s always a great idea to send the reporter or producer some basic information about your topic in advance. She may even request this of you, so she can then turn the information into graphics that can be put on screen while you’re talking to make your information easier to digest. If you’re discussing an annual event, send photos and/or video of previous years as an example of what to expect. The more visual the segment, the better for TV and the less the spotlight will be on you personally.
It’s also good to send a producer or reporter an outline of what you plan to discuss for a live interview. This gives them information to pass along to the host or anchor so they can ask intelligent questions, and also provides them with information to put in the system for closed captioning. All stations are required by the Federal Communications Communication to provide closed captioning for the hearing impaired. Some stations pay to have live captioning, but most rely on the scripts in their computer systems to bring that information to the screen. In live situations, captioning is not required to have word-for-word accuracy. If you send in bullet points on what you’re planning to discuss, the producer can put that information in the system and satisfy the legal requirements.
Providing additional information also gives the reporter or producer something to add to the station’s website, where viewers may come looking for details after seeing your interview segment or story.
- Posted by Lift Media Group