TOP 10 TIPS FOR WOMEN NEW TO TV INTERVIEWS

1. FEEL THE FEAR BUT DO IT ANYWAY

The thought of being interviewed on TV, where viewers are not only assessing what you’re saying but are also all too often making judgments about your appearance, can be daunting. The good news is that it’s a great way of raising your profile and/or that of your brand. It always surprises me, even when it’s a programme with a relatively small audience, how many people comment – even months later when, in my case, I’ve forgotten all about it.

2. CONTEXT

When you get the call from the researcher, find out whether the interview is live or pre-recorded. Which programme/channel is it going out on and when? What’s the context for the interview – is it a news item or current affairs or a specialist genre? Does it pick up on a VT (video tape)? And are you the sole interviewee?

3. DON’T BE BLINDED BY FLATTERY & BUY YOURSELF SOME TIME

Ask the researcher/producer if you can get back to them with a decision in 20 minutes, particularly if you’re not familiar with the programme. Don’t be blinded by flattery: I was asked if I would be a regular contributor to a specialist politics show but decided against it because it was not a specific area of expertise of mine. And, if you have time, check out a recent programme. Can you see yourself in that studio?

4. ARRANGE A MORE IN-DEPTH CHAT AT YOUR CONVENIENCE

If you agree to the interview, the researcher will almost certainly want to have a longer phone chat to find out what you might say. Ideally, spend time doing a bit of research, both to inform what you want to say but, just as importantly, to find out what others have been saying about the subject. What’s being said on Twitter & other social media channels? The more informed you are, the less chance you will be caught out on air.

5. DO YOUR CLOTHES SUIT YOUR MESSAGE?

The most important criteria is comfort because if you’re sitting there fretting about whether your skirt is riding up your legs too much, you can guarantee you won’t be concentrating on your answer. I find jackets are good because they frame your head & shoulders and you can dress them up or down. A jacket’s also easy for the studio technicians to fix your microphone onto. And if, for example, you’re talking about combating abject poverty, you won’t want to be seen wearing an Armani suit.

6. LEAVE ENOUGH TIME FOR MAKE-UP

Female contributors are always in make-up longer than men: blame it on eyes & hair. Depending on how many guests there are, you may have to wait, so aim to arrive at least 45 minutes before the programme. And try to enjoy the process. I find it a) allows me to gather my thoughts b) makes me look far better than I ever could and I feel more confident.

7. TWO OR THREE KEY POINTS

The interviewer will have their own “angle” on the story but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it work for you as well. Work out, well ahead of the interview, the 2 or 3 key points that you want to make. You’re there because the production team think you will add to the discussion. Embrace that and have the confidence to make points which haven’t yet been covered, but you think are really important.

8. NOTES YES, SCRIPT NO

Even if you’re the most confident person, the process of having your make-up done, being shown to the Green Room, where other guests who might be taking an opposite view to you, are also waiting, can be nerve-wracking. And nerves have an uncanny habit of clearing your mind of what you want to say. You’ll be asked to leave your personal possessions in the Green Room but it’s usually possible to take a tablet into the studio – tuck it into the side of your chair where it can’t be seen by the camera.

9. THE STUDIO

Don’t be put off by the number of production staff in the studio – just focus on the presenter. Once you’re settled, sit upright in your chair with your back supported, so you can breathe more easily. Speak confidently and use your voice, facial expression and body language to add interest. I am naturally demonstrative so I usually hold my hands in my lap. And if there’s a key point you want to make, don’t wait for the presenter to ask you directly – weave it in to what you’re saying: “There’s something else here which I don’t think has been touched on…”

10. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

Don’t ever check social media on the same day as filming. Even the most seasoned performer is self-critical & you will usually leave the studio thinking “Oh, why didn’t I get that in?” or “I could have put that so much better”. The good news is that when you DO replay the interview, you’ll generally find it’s nowhere near as bad as you think. Learn from the experience so you’re even better next time….50% of the audience should have a voice so we need to step up to the mark.

© Liz Leonard 2016

Liz Leonard