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How to Prepare for a Live TV Interview
Remember it's never all about you.
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 by Dushka Zapata
Media Trainer & Consultant

Here is a kitfull of tips on how to prepare for a live television interview, courtesy of media expert and author Dushka Zapata:

Know your audience. Who watches the show? What are they most interested in? Collect the information you need to understand how to frame your story.Dushka Zapata

Remember that it’s never about you, even when it’s all about you. Focus less on your company, less on you, and more about how what you are here to say applies to others.

Understand the format of the show. How long will your interview be? What questions are you most likely to get? Have they done any research on you or should you begin with a short introduction? Can you send your interviewer questions you’d like them to ask you? (Typically, you can.)

Be clear on what you want to say. Forget about “messages.” Be succinct. Tell a story. Be visual. Use anecdotes. Draw a direct, obvious line between what you are saying and why it matters.

Headline what you want to say, then say it. Once upon a time, there was a little girl called Little Red Riding Hood. She wore a red coat with a hood and was fond of strolling across the forest…” will have less impact than “little girl, attacked by wolf. Wolf dressed in grandmother’s clothing.”

Practice. Develop soundbites through “headlining” what you want to say (like the Little Red Riding Hood example above). A sound bite is brief, catchy; and typically “packages” a lot of what you want to say. Have someone film you a few days before your interview so you can look at yourself and become more aware of your body language and facial expressions.

Prepare answers to your worst questions. What questions keep you up at night? Writing out how you would handle them is more helpful (and effective) than pretending they will not come up.

Be here now. Tell yourself that for the duration of the interview you will not allow your own brain to distract you. Set aside your worries, your problems, what you will say, what they will ask you next. Focus on right now.

Wear comfortable, presentable clothes. Put yourself in a place where you will not think about what you are wearing. If your clothes are too tight, too uncomfortable, if you have to constantly tug or adjust, that is what you (and your audience) will zone in on. Don’t wear white – the camera adjusts to light colors and the rest of you will look washed out. Don’t wear patterns; they are distracting.

Bring your personality. Ignore anyone who tells you to sound “more excited,” “more alive,” “more like X celebrity.” You cannot come across as credible or authentic if you attempt to sound like someone other than yourself.

Don’t look at the camera. Looking at the camera is terrifying and disorienting. Also, it’s hard to tell which camera is on so you could be staring deeply in the wrong direction. Instead, look at the person talking to you and shut out everything else.

Just before you go on, take a few deep breaths. Breathing deeply tells your body that despite the nerves you are not in danger.

Dushka Zapata has 20 years experience in public relations
and media training, and is an author of four books. 

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