Put your best face forward: 11 tips to nail your TV interview


The goal is to look as good as you sound on television. It sounds easy, right? Sometimes delivering a solid interview is easier said than done, especially because you’re out of your comfort zone.

Television is a visual medium and if the viewer is distracted they won’t be listening to your messages. As a former reporter, I’ve learned the hard way with what looks good on camera and how viewers can be easily distracted.

A great example is below, I was conducting an interview… and holding an ice cream cone. Busted.

Eleven tips to nail it in your next interview
  1. Wear clothing that is professional and comfortable and be sure to avoid patterns.
  2. Minimize movements and hand gestures because cameras accentuate movement. Also be aware of what you have in your hands or surrounding you (see ice cream picture above).
  3. Mom was right, sit up straight.
  4. Identify someone you’re comfortable talking to and think as if you’re speaking to them during your interview. I always think about my grandmother, I wouldn’t try to impress her or talk in a certain way, but would be myself and act natural.
  5. Avoid jargon. You need to clearly articulate your messages and purpose.
  6. Know your messages. Most sound bites are eight to 10 seconds, you want to make sure to put your best foot forward.
  7. Everyone needs powder. Whether you’re a man or a women, the camera picks up shine and it’s not flattering.
  8. If you need to think about your answer, look down (not up) to collect your thoughts.
  9. Never wear sunglasses.
  10. If you’re not comfortable, speak up. Example: If you’re blinded by the sun or outside in the cold without your coat, ask the reporter if you can move the interview indoors. Most reporters are happy to accommodate reasonable requests unless there is an active scene as background.
  11. Ask the reporter where they want you to look, because usually you should look slightly off-camera. “One man bands,” or reporters who serve both as reporter and photographer are common. That means the reporter has less time to spend making sure you’re properly positioned.

One of the great services Martin Waymire offers are coordinated trainings of how to succeed in media interviews, especially television interviews. We like to teach our clients how to feel prepared and how to position themselves for success. We find the best way to do this is by simulating a real-life exercise with large cameras in a newsroom-style environment, firing questions at you on a topic we determined ahead of time.