Televised Interview Skills: Do’s and Don’ts
You are at your political campaign results party, standing in the midst of anxious supporters, shirts, and signs with your name printed on them. The votes have scrolled across the screen, and signs of despair are immediately painted on your guests faces. Unfortunately, you did not win your heated campaign, but the show must go on and you have to maintain your composure for the local and national media. So, how do you maintain your composure for televised moments? Well, it takes preparation.
Interviews with the media can be intimidating, but you can make the most of them by preparing yourself. By taking the following steps, you can make a televised interview a valuable opportunity for your organization.
- Imagine you are chatting with someone you have just met at a lounge on a Friday night. This person is intelligent, but knows nothing about a major issue happening with your organization. When explaining the situation, you would not use abbreviations or technical terms because you want him or her to understand the issue.
- Speak clearly and concisely. Pronounce every word fully and speak every statement as fact. Don’t add more words than necessary. Shorter, more concise statements usually end up as sound bites.
- Look at the reporter. If the reporter is present, do not look at the camera.
- Turn off all electronic devices and focus on the interview.
- Remain calm. Being nervous is normal, but don’t allow your nerves to dictate your behavior.
- Don’t drink water or chew gum while answering a question.
- Keep your hands at your sides, not crossed or in your pockets. Keep your feet next to each other, firmly on the ground. Do not shift around.
- If you are seated, avoid swivel chairs. If a swivel chair is your only option, don’t swivel because the movement will distract viewers from your message.
- If the reporter stands, you stand. If the reporter sits, you can sit or stand. Try staying on the same level as the camera so it does not tower you.
- Tell the truth, but don’t feel compelled to provide information that has not been requested.
- Be in control of the interview. Be direct, positive and pleasant. If a question contains false or misleading information, politely rephrase it and then give an answer.
- Know that you have rights. Don’t be afraid to object if an interview turns in an unnecessary direction.
With positive coverage, you will build beneficial relationships with the media and you will also enhance your organization’s credibility. To learn more about your interview rights, visit http://www.oac.state.oh.us/resources/mediaresourceguide/interview_rights.asp.