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Live at 5 Handling The TV Interview

Tips for executives to nail TV interviews the first time, every time By G.A. "Andy" Marken

Whether you go to their studio or the camera crew simply arrives at your front door there is nothing that fully prepares an executive for the TV interview. 

Youre so busy today running the company, planning new products/services or winning sales; it is difficult to perform with grace and poise when a television reporter shoves a microphone in your face to ask about your stock performance, an environmental issue, layoffs or other ?news item.  Every senior manager today should have interview training.  In the meantime though, here are some steps, easy to remember and follow, to help you present the company and yourself as favorably as possible.

More Than a Talking Head
Study people who are interviewed on TV.  They are seldom just talking heads.  The camera usually captures the person from the waist up. 

The worst thing you can do is let your arms fall straight down to your side.  You look stiff, insecure, anxious.  Bend your elbows so your hands are waist high. Let them float against your body or loosely clasp them.  This may not feel natural but on screen it looks very natural.   Or to help you relax, casually grab something with your elbows bent.  It does wonders in controlling the jitters. 

Smile, Relax
This sounds simple but it is easier said than done.  Before you step before the camera close your eyes, take 5-10 very deep breaths and focus.  The extra oxygen to the brain aids thinking and calms you.  People use all sorts of tricks to get past anxiety including looking right thru the camera to mentally picture friends and family on the other side.

If a reporter is interviewing you, give them 100% of your attention and ignore the camera.  Look into his or her eyes and give the reporter your undivided attention.  Youll come off looking natural, confident and credible.

Body Language, Voice
The TV camera does an excellent job of capturing body language.  Practice good posture and be expressive with your hands.  Being stiff or slumped with the arms at your side sends a totally negative message. 

Speak in a strong, measured rhythm and avoid stammering.  Mumbling or hesitation makes you come across as weak or indecisive.  The person who is practiced and knowledgeable can deliver a powerful, positive message to the audience. 

Keep your body language and your vocal presence in tune. 

Control Timing
Dont rush the interview and dont let the reporter rush you.  Control the situation by speaking slowly, pleasantly, clearly and concisely.  People who rush often find they have talked before they thought.  What was said (and captured) isnt what was meant. 

Think in terms of strong, positive and active sound bytes.  Control your timing?dont let the reporter control you.

Time Message
Even if the camera crew and reporter simply show up at your front door you dont have to immediately respond.  If this is a scheduled interview then you should have prepared and committed to memory your 2-3 key messages.  Covering any more simply means you dilute, confuse or even lose your key message.

When you are asked a question, answer it but keep focusing on your key points. 

If the interview is unplanned an accident, sudden product recall or disaster you still dont have to respond immediately.   Quickly confer with other executives and experts and prepare your key points/messages in real time.  Having the interviewer wait for five to ten minutes while you become properly prepared enables you to ensure the news crew leaves with the right message. 

When you begin, give the camera (and reporter) your undivided attention and remember it isnt over until the mike and camera are safely packed away.  Dont think the interview is over and then make an off-the-cuff comment or big sigh of relief.  It could come back to haunt you.

Even a little preparation will help you ensure your company and you look good.  

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Related Keywords:television reporter, senior manager, interview training, TV interview, on-camera, performance, interviewed

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