Tips to Becoming a Great TV Guest
Ever watch morning TV and think, "Hey, I can do that!" What does it take to be a good guest? Here are five simple tips to get you started and help you capitalize on the valuable airtime at your disposal:
1) Don't overdo the makeup, ladies and gentlemen.Yes, both women and men are repeat offenders in this category. There's no need to go to the station with a full face of make-up. You'll find most producers are prepared to give you a quick once-over when you arrive so that you look good for the cameras. Shallow as it may sound, it's hard for viewers to take you seriously if they're too busy zeroing in on a face that's overly made-up.
2) Check your props. As TV is all about visuals (no matter what your topic is) it's likely you'll have some kind of props for your interview. Take stock of them before the interview to make sure they're in good shape with all parts intact. For example, if you're conducting a "how-to" demonstration, ensure your equipment and tools are clean and at the ready. If you'll be using the station's stove for a cooking segment, make sure it works. If your prop is your book, hold it on your lap with an un-tattered front cover facing the audience.
3) Stay seated! When your interview draws to a close and it appears that the camera has stopped focusing on you, don't stand up and take off your microphone! It's the job of the floor manager to remove the mic for you and give you the all-clear to leave. By leaving prematurely, you could run the risk of ruining a perfectly good camera shot and coming off as an unprofessional guest.
4) Speak in a conversational manner. When people get nervous about being on camera, they tend to speak too fast and sometimes tense up—which can be very distracting for the audience. To relieve the nervous tension, you first need to get comfortable. Look around and get familiar with the studio and set. Introduce yourself to the host, producer, and camera crew. Locate where you'll be seated during the interview. Then, when the interview starts, you'll feel less like you're in a strange environment. You'll look more at ease and feel like the ultimate pro!
5) No arguing! Unless you are on a show that thrives on arguing, being combative on a show is not suggested. Your goal as a guest is to win over the audience; something that can be tricky if a question makes you feel angry or combative. If you've been ambushed with a nasty question, remain dignified and answer calmly. Losing your temper won't boost your credibility; plus, it makes you look defensive, which is definitely not the best position to be in when trying to promote your message.
6) Use “Tips” as part of your segment! If your topic offers helpful advice then tips are a great way to communicate your message. Television producers want to provide their viewers with useful content presented in a manner that is easy to understand. Develop five tips that solve a problem your topic addresses. Are you a fitness guru with a unique formulation for fat loss? Then offer five fat burning tips! Does your book offer advice about how to live a happier life? Then come up with 5 ways to live happier today!
7) If you’re pitching local TV, find the local angle. Local network affiliates are extremely valuable, so a great method to grab the producer's interest is to find the local tie-in for your topic. If you are a real estate guru, before going on air do your homework and find out what the real estate market is like in that city. Have you written a book about the American economy? Be prepared to talk about the economic climate in that particular city. By highlighting a local angle, your interview will resonate more with the host and the viewers.
8) Don't be monotone. It doesn't work. The alteration of pitch and tone in your voice will keep your audience interested. Stay animated. It's not only what you say, but how you say it that counts!
9) Prepare for personal questions. The job of a producer is to do research for the host about you and your topic, in preparation of your interview. If simple web research unearths two previous bankruptcies and you are promoting a CD series on how to make millions . . . be prepared! Often the best comeback is a real and even comical answer. It will not only endear you to the audience but can deflect the tone of an antagonistic interviewer.
10) Don't overload your interview with statistics. Use stats and numbers wisely. For example, if you have written a book about natural methods of preventing diabetes, the fact that 20.8 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes is important. But if you also mention that 85,000 diabetics have their feet amputated and 12 million people will go blind from it, these statistics will create more of an emotional impact on the host and viewers.
11) Double-check your contact information. Before you go on-air, make sure your website is up, your toll free phone number is working and you have a list of the retail outlets where your book can be purchased. Why? If you share the incorrect contact information during your interview, you defeat the whole purpose of your appearance. Also, if you give a great interview and viewers can’t find your book, the TV station will get overloaded with calls from viewers asking for information—and reflects poorly on you as a guest.
12) Record and critique your interviews. Watch your interview numerous times and observe the different elements of your performance. How well did you answer the questions? Did your clothes send the right message? What did your body language say about you? Did you seem natural or rehearsed? Did you remember all of your sound bites? Did you interrupt the host? Identify the points you felt were weak and do whatever you can to strengthen them before your next interview.
13) Look good / feel good. Sleep and good nutrition are obviously important to our daily mental and physical well being; it makes us look better, feel better, and think clearly. But these health points are even more important when you factor in the stress of an important media interview. So try to get a good night’s sleep—and a healthy breakfast before your interview. Don't overdose on the caffeine either! You want to be at the top of your game for your TV appearance.
14) Be gracious on and off the air. Remember to thank the host for the interview while you're still on-air. Make sure to thank the producer as well. It’s also a good practice to send a brief thank you note to the host and the producer. It’s good manners and presents you as a consummate professional. It can also increase your chances of being remembered in the future, when they need to interview an expert on your topic.
15) Prepare for the pre-interview. When it comes to national TV, you may be asked for a “pre-interview”. Don’t take this lightly. Be prepared with your message; be energetic, informative and appropriately entertaining. The interview isn’t completely secured until you pass this test!
So there you have it! A good solid start in making the most of your time on the air!
Marsha Friedman has been a leading authority on publicity for authors for nearly two decades as CEO of Event Management Services, Inc (EMSI). If you would like to receive her free e-book, How to Be a Great Talk Radio Guest, visit emsincorporated.com.