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How to prepare to face the television cameras

May, 2016

Being interviewed by the media can be a daunting experience, being interviewed on film can make it even more nerve-racking. Erica Jones of PR and marketing agency Maxim offers some advice to help you get it right.

Thanks to home videos, we’ve all got some experience of appearing in front of the camera. Which means we all know how humiliating it can be. However, nerves are the last thing you need when facing the cameras for the news, especially if the news has been bad.

Should such a situation arise, it’s important you tell your side of the story early, honestly and yourself. By doing so you regain some control over the message and are more likely to avoid rumours from taking hold and doing damage to your reputation.

At Maxim, we offer full media training for anything from preparing for a one-to-one news interview to briefings for documentaries. We can also facilitate and support you through press conferences.

Meantime, should the news come calling before you’re fully trained, here are eight simple steps to help you face the cameras.

Be prepared

You may not know all the facts – and we’re not suggesting you write a script – but taking a few minutes to go over the information available could help to limit your awkward pauses when the camera is on.

Appropriate clothing

Before the interview has even begun, viewers will make a judgement about you according to your appearance. If your work involves a uniform or some kind of personal protective equipment that’s good, but if you wear your own clothes it’s important to ensure you are dressed smartly enough to show the required respect for your message.

Location

Consider where you are stood. If you are being interviewed about bad news, you may not want to be filmed in front of your company’s logo as the more your brand is seen, the more memorable the connection to the bad news will be.

Body language

Always look at the journalist or – if you’re being interviewed remotely – directly at the camera. As with a face-to-face conversation, more than 50 per cent of the communication is visual. If you can’t look up, viewers may be left wondering how much of what you say can be trusted.

The same is true for your pose. If you cross your arms or keep your hands in your pockets you might come across as aggressive or uninterested.

No comment is not an option

This is something we’ve said before, but it really can’t be repeated enough. Even if you don’t know the answer to the question, it’s better to be honest and say “I don’t know, we are looking into it” than to refuse to comment and make your silence look like guilt.

Keep it simple

You may be familiar with the abbreviations and jargon that make up your day-to-day life but a television audience is not. Use everyday language and should an abbreviation slip in, be sure to explain what it means.

Know when to stop talking

The journalist will let you talk and talk and talk, because the more you continue the more likely you are to open up a new line of questioning. Stick to the point, answer the question and then stop. It’s the journalist’s job to fill the silence, not yours.

Remember your manners

Nothing guarantees you coverage more than getting angry, shouting or storming off in front of the camera. Keep calm, stay until the end and check your microphone is off before making any off-air comments.

These are just a few pointers for how to face a television interview, but remember every scenario is different, with a press conference requiring much more large-scale planning.

If you’d like to know more, to take part in your own media training or otherwise need help preparing to face the cameras, get in touch.

Erica Jones - Account Manager

Erica Jones

Maxim / Account Manager

posted in: advice, media relations, public relations, reputation management,

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