Media interviews can be uncomfortable. Doing them in front of cameras can be petrifying. It’s a normal reaction many people have until they practice a few simple steps.
Here are 10 tips to help viewers focus on your key messages, not your anxiety level.
1. Introduce yourself to the camera crew. When people sit for interviews, too often they treat the crew as pieces of equipment, making small talk only with the reporter. Make nice with the crew, and they’re more likely to help you look better.
2. Control the setting. Let the crew know if you’re more comfortable sitting or standing. If you’re sitting, find a sturdy chair that doesn’t swivel or recline.
3. Let the crew know if you tend to talk with your hands. It’s fine if you do—you want to feel natural—but if so, the crew needs to zoom out. You don’t want viewers to see such a closeup that as you move your hands, your fingertips occasionally appear in the frame.
4. Ask where you should look. Usually journalists want you looking at them, not straight into the camera, but you should confirm.
5. Bring notes. As long as you don’t talk while looking down, making it seem like you’re just reading, it’s good to have a reminder of your key messages.
6. Instead of just blurting out answers, take a moment to think. Pauses also build drama, add emphasis, make you sound poised and, in the end, they make it easier for the crew to edit the piece.
7. Ask for a “redo.” It may seem odd—and it won’t work on live TV—but if it’s a taped interview and you feel like you stumbled, ask to try again. The substance of your answer won’t change, but you’ll deliver a better soundbite that’s more likely to air, giving you more control of the story.
8. It warms your voice and helps you come across as sincere and confident. If it helps, fake a smile by saying the word “smile” in your head.
9. Stop fidgeting. You want people to listen to your words, not wonder why you’re moving. If you’re standing for the interview, act like you’re in the military, arms by your side. If you’re sitting, keep both feet firmly on the floor. If maintaining that posture starts to feel awkward, wiggle your toes. It’ll release nervous energy without changing your facial expression.
10. As the interview winds down, before the crew turns off the cameras, summarize your key messages (e.g., “I hope this helps show how our new product will help both customers and shareholders.”). That short, simple, direct statement will be the easiest for the crew to find while editing the story.
For more than 30 years, Mower has created media training programs that prepared executives for on-camera interviews. We have customized sessions for groups ranging from Fortune 500 CEOs and professional athletes to startup companies and private citizens.