Tips for a Live Television Interview

For publicity, author, CEO etc.

by Chia-Li Chien | 06-17-2010

My public relations expert, Bert Woodard, from Next Level Communication has done a tremendous job in getting high visibility coverage in the Charlotte area for my book, Show Me The Money. He even scheduled two television interviews for the same week. There’s only one problem. I have no experience at all with television interviews. So, seeking guidance, I turned to people in the know as well as to Google to find tips on how to interview for television.

That said, I’d like use this space to share some wisdom from Cristina Cassidy, Executive Director/Producer of Cristina Cassidy Productions, LLC on how to interview for television. Here are some of her tips:

  • Be comfortable.
  • Sit up straight if it’s a sit down interview. Don’t sink into the sofa or couch. You want to have the upper part of your body up and open.
  • Use your hands to talk. It shows how expressive you are and prevents you from appearing stiff and stilted.
  • Lose the non-words like "ummmm's" or "ah's," "you know" or “and.”
  • It is a conversation, so enjoy yourself and remember to smile.
  • When you are done with your answer, smile politely and relax. It is up to the interviewer to make you feel comfortable. Sometimes interviewers use silence to get more out of the their guests. People often tend to ramble when there is silence. When you are finished making your point or answering the question as fully as you intend, again, just smile and through your body language, let the interviewer know you have finished your thought.
  • Talk at your normal speed, but not too fast. If nervousness is a factor for you, I would listen politely to the question and pretend that it is a client asking you a question.
  • Tell stories. Anecdotal stories add a lot to an interview.
  • Look at the interviewer ONLY.  Do not look at the camera or a monitor, it will distract you when you look at your own image.
  • Ask how the taping is done. Get yourself familiar with how it works.

In addition to the above, here is what I did to prepare for the interview. Again, it depends on the viewing audience. In my case, my audience consisted mainly of moms, moms who want to start a business, or moms who have a small business. Unfortunately, they are not my typical clientele but I still had an obligation to promote my book on live TV. If you’re asked to talk on a topic that is not an exact match with your business, here is what I recommend:

  • Prepare talking points for the producer ahead of time.
  • Some TV station will use "script" instead of talking points. Ask that from the producer ahead of time. If possible discuss that with the host or interviewer.
  • Treat this like a 3 to 4 minute public speech. It’s almost like a table topic discussion at a Toastmaster practice if you are familiar with that organization.
  • Write up the 3 to 4 minutes like an article. You may be able to later able to use that as a blog post on a website. This will also help you clarify your points.
  • Do your homework about the interviewers. Go online and look at their segments to see how they interview other guests. Listen to their interviewing skills. Remember, they are professionals.

Here are additional points from Allison Andrews the producer of  Charlotte Today.

  • Do not wear all white, busy prints or stripes to look your best for the show. Bright, solid colors look great on camera.
  • Come with your hair and makeup done. The makeup team only powders you for on-air.
  • If you want to bring anyone who will not be a guest appearing on the show, please make sure the producer knows as space is limited in studio and there is only a small greenroom to watch the program.
  • Arrive promptly.
  • Don’t forget any props or extras you’ve been asked to bring. However, since there is limited space, let the studio know if you’ll be bringing any large items.

So how did my interviews turn out? See for yourself –

WCNC, Charlotte Today taped June 16, 2010. Air Aug. 3, 2010 11:08 am.


WCCB, Fox Charlotte, live June 18, 2010.


My client's interview who used this tip. WCCB, Fox News June 21, 2010.

Women's Equality Day


And if you find yourself in the position of being interviewed, as Cristina Cassidy said, “Well, break a leg!” Have fun and enjoy it!

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