Thursday, August 03, 2006

The 11 Deadly Sins of Live TV Interviews Even The Most Seasoned Media Professionals Make And How To Avoid Them

By Thomas Murrell MBA CSP, International Business Speaker

Even the most seasoned media performers can make mistakes during live TV interviews.

Here are the 11 most common mistakes and some helpful tips on how to avoid them.

1) Dress To Impress

Research the style of the show and dress to suit - although you may look great more formally dressed than the interviewers, dressing a little more casually while maintaining your sharp grooming can be better.

For example, seasonality and fashion comes and goes and if your wardrobe is like autumn, but your two hosts' clothes are dressed for the middle of summer, it is too different and not a good look or connection.

2) Check Your Set Background

TV set backgrounds, which are out of your control, can be distracting. Watch the show beforehand to get a feel. For example a painting behind your head can be very distracting.

Here the angle of the camera, when on you only, for the most part can give the perception of the left hand edge of the frame "growing" from your left shoulder. Many viewers can find this a little distracting, a bit like a photograph of someone standing in front of a tall tree where the photographer has not considered the background and the tree protrudes from the subject's head.

3) Look At The Camera (in a natural way during conversation)

Often you spend most of the time looking at the presenters which is natural. However these are not the people you want to connect with, so a suggestion for live interviews is you look directly into the camera more. This allows the people watching to look into your eyes while you are speaking.

For example, try to arrange your position so that when you are speaking with the interviewers you also have some eye contact with the camera and therefore the audience at home.

Avoid looking down when you pause in the middle of a conversation. This does not look good. You may try to speak more accurately, but it is often much better to show it in a natural way.

4) Watch Excess and Distracting Hand Movements

Wow, this is hard. Some hand gestures, especially early in an interview can be a little distracting. Try to restrict this movement... if you look at the people carrying out the interview they appear to deliberately have their hands planted firmly to restrict such movements.

Some of your hand movements may take away from the point you are trying to make - especially when your hands are pointed internally and you lose your openness with the audience.

5) Dumb Down

The answers you give can be extremely informative, however sometimes people give answers with the purpose of sounding impressive rather than giving an answer that your audience can easily identify with.

Answer the most obvious question in a simple way

Often, this depends on how the interviewer asks the questions (they sometimes do them out of order), but there needs to be an initial question which illustrates why the topic is important.

If the why is answered in the end, initially your brain is distracted from the what because you don't know why a concept/message is important. Why, What, How, What if? is a good format to stick to.

6) Visuals Early

If there are some pictures, graphics or slide show about the topic use these early in the interview. It is a better way to get your message across, especially in a way that matches our strongest sense - visual

Well thought out props can also have a nice visual impact.

7) Seven Second Sound Bites

Analogies right at the end of an interview can lose their impact in the short time you have to deliver it. Often it is almost enough just to say that you use the analogy, without actually then describing the analogy. Often the 60 second grab of the analogy needs to be tightened because the audience gets a little lost in your explanation if you go into detail - you can't explain some complex concepts in a one minute spiel. Sometimes at the end of the interview the audience starts to lose interest as they lose track of the story.

8) Try Not To Say 'erm' and 'er' Too Often

Enough said. Especially if you are the expert!

9) Be Culturally Sensitive

For example, a reference to Americans compared with Australians might not be taken well by...........the American audience, who might be tuning in to the programme.

You never know who is watching.

10) Smile More

Use you smile more! Your smile can be a point of difference (along with your own unique personal background or story!) Unless of course it is a very serious subject.

11) Less Words

There is a temptation to use too many words too quickly: less is often more.

This article was written following feedback from Media Motivators readers who viewed a recent TV interview of the author.

If you missed it you can watch the TV interview here.

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