Picture the day you open your email inbox and find a request from a reporter/journalist for an interview. You are filled with excitement that you have reached the point where someone wants to talk to you about what you do. But now what? What do you do? There are a few things you can do to prepare to come off polished and professional.
Know Your Interview Message
Reporters have the message they want to communicate to their audience and you have your message. What do you want people to know about you or your vision for your brand? The reporter may be focused on one specific topic, while you see the bigger picture. Don’t be afraid to slip it in there. Be respectful of the reporters goals, but make the interview work for you as well.
Anticipate the questions. Usually the production will give you some indication as to the direction they want to take with the interview. Think about what the questions might be (positive and negative) and run through how you may answer them. Anticipate getting a question you aren’t prepared for. Just smile and do your best.
Expand on your answers. When answering questions, answer more than Yes or No. You are selling yourself to their audience. They are giving you free airtime and you want to make every second you are on that screen count.
Test Your Programs Before the Interview
If you are interviewing via Skype or another program, make sure you have all your updates installed ahead of time. Production teams work on schedules and can’t wait for you. Also, you want to make a good impression and look professional. Being professional means showing up on time and being prepared. They can’t wait for your programs to update or to troubleshoot a plugin error. Either they will reschedule with you or cancel altogether. Time is money.
Check Your Lighting
Choose a location with plenty of light. Your webcam can only do so much and it needs additional lighting in the room to brighten your face. Remember, you want to look good. Sit in a place with the window in front of you or slightly to one side. Check that the light isn’t causing any lens flares (Don’t go all J.J. Abrams for your interview). If you need to bring a lamp into the room, do it.
Watch Your Background
Be aware of what is in the room with you. What is in the shot/frame? If it looks messy, tidy up the space or thin out the clutter. Don’t take too much out of the background or it will look plain. You don’t want people to think you’re a slob but you still want to make the background interesting. Remember ladies, no bras hanging off of door knobs or dressers in the background.
Find A Quiet Location
Try to find a quiet place. Don’t do the interview outside in the backyard if there is construction taking place or the neighbours are about the mow the lawns. If you have kids, try to schedule the interview while they are having a nap or at school. Otherwise, inform the reporter ahead of time that you are conducting the interview from home and they may get to see your real life in action. In my case, I’ve done interviews WITH my kids. My most memorable interview was for Good Morning America where I had snacks on hand for the twins to munch on all interview long. They were important to the interview and the reporter wanted them there. The snacks saved the day to keep them entertained.
I’ll embed the video to the Good Morning America interview behind the scenes end of this post.
Dress For The Interview
Think about what you’re wearing and the message you are conveying. Check how your outfit looks in the shot and in that room. Pick something that ties everything together. Consider their audience and be mindful while still being true to who you are. You are used to dressing for your audience but you have two audiences you are presenting yourself to. Remember not to wear any clothing with company logos…etc.
Prepare To See Nothing
In most cases, your screen will be black. You will see someone ahead of time (reporter or production assistant) but once the interview begins, your screen will go black. This is for technical reasons that I can’t explain. Just know, you will hear them and the little glowing webcam light is now your new focal point. Treat your TV interview like you would a phone interview. When you hear them doing the lead in for your segment (music or verbal) take a breath and smile.
Tip: Don’t forget you’re on camera. Even though you can’t see them, they can see you. NO PICKING YOUR NOSE.
Don’t Stress/Have Fun
Let the reporter be your best friend for 5 minutes. Have fun. Laugh. Relax. Share your message and smile while you do it. It isn’t every day you get asked to do an interview for TV.