3 steps for successful on-camera interviews

     

Published on January 21, 2014
in Knowledge, Marketing & Social Media by

film-crew

So, your media strategy worked, and now you’ve got an on-camera interview coming up next week with a major TV morning show. It’s one of those make-or-break interviews that could take your company to the next level.

Only problem is, you’re petrified going in front of the camera.

Having that cold optic lens staring at you–with millions of eyeballs watching in the virtual netherworld beyond–can be intimidating. Even for non-shrinking violets, it’s still a good idea to practice and keep your skills sharp.

On Camera

We polled AlleyWire’s 40-member team of on-camera and behind-the-scenes veterans to see just what makes for a great on-camera interview.

What we found is a glib little alphabet soup system we call C-A-P: (C)ontent, (A)ppearance, (P)ersonality. 

(C)ontent

The comedian (or is it comedienne when he’s an executive transvestite?) Eddie Izzard once joked that singing the U.S. national anthem is “70 percent how you look, 20 percent how you sound and 10 percent what you say…” And he’s not all that wrong.

Get Your Points to Get to the Point 

Getting in front of the camera and blabbing on and on with no point, will simply get you nowhere. Indeed, it’s worked for countless Kardashians and other reality stars, but you’ve only got a few minutes or even seconds to tell a story and make an impression.

So, take some time to figure out your talking points. DO NOT script yourself. It will come across as stilted, and unnatural, and a big turnoff.

Make a list of the points you want to hit, perhaps using a mnemonic device (e.g. C-A-P), and you’ll be able to hit each of those in a timely fashion.

And believe it or not, once you get going, you really will forget the cameras are there.

You’re a domain expert, it’s why you’re being interviewed–rely on yourself and your own wit, and you’ll be amazed at how it all comes together.

Try and hook the audience with something shocking, sassy, sexy whatever at the top, and then try to end on a high note a la George Costanza. Saying too much is just as bad as saying too little.

There is a Style to Content

Think about how you’re presenting what you’re saying, keep your answers short and pithy if possible. 30 seconds tops. And make sure it’s a complete thought…

Don’t suffer yourself to say uhs and ums if you can avoid it…any kind of verbal crutch (e.g. “likes,” “you knows”) are truly annoying.

If your interviewer asks a question, really pay attention. Don’t start formulating your answer in advance, or you may not answer the question, then you all look awkward.

And above all, have fun! It’s not every day you get to be on TV, enjoy the experience!

(A)ppearance

As Mr. Izzard reminds us, 70% is how you look. So, take the time to dress the part. It’s not 1965, so you don’t need a suit and tie or formal debutante dress.

A Few Simple Rules of Style: 

You can come in your comfortable attire that truly reflects who you are. But, there are a few simple rules you should know:

1) SHADES OF — Stay away from black and white, as these colors tend to washout on camera–bold shades and jewel tones tend to pop more–if you’re going in front of a green or blue screen, don’t wear those colors

2) STRIPES — Avoid really obvious stripes, most cameras will make them look wavy or out of focus

3) BUSY PATTERNS — The same goes for really busy patterns, they just distract, but good textures can be effective

4) PERSONAL ICONOGRAPHY — If you want to give yourself a bit of personal touch or personal brand, a great pocket square or piece of statement jewelry can be useful. If you’re going to appear on camera regularly, you can go for something that eventually may become “iconic.” Think of Larry King’s suspenders or Steve Jobs’ turtlenecks

5) MAKEUP — Both men and women should wear makeup–for ladies, too much eyeliner can make you look sleepy on camera—for men, you just need liquid and/or powder foundation, under-eye concealer and good hair…no rouge or bronzer.

Your Body:

Use your hands to articulate your points. Having them sitting at your sides will make you look like Mary Katherine Gallagher from SNL. You can use your head as well, but try to keep that relatively stationary and all movement necessary—no gratuitousness here. Cross your legs as you feel comfortable…if you have ticks or fidget…stop it…just stop it.

Make certain to “lean in” when speaking. Sit on the edge of your seat. Don’t sit back and look too relaxed, you’ll come across as disengaged.

No, the camera doesn’t add 10 pounds, but in the world of all-HD, it is much less forgiving to both double-chins and skin flaws.

*A special note when wearing a jacket–always keep it buttoned when sitting, especially behind a desk (I know this goes against style conventions), and actually sit on the tail of the coat if you can to help keep straight lines. 

(P)ersonality

So now we get to that final piece of the puzzle, the 20% of “how you sound.”

Be True to Thy Self 

Of course you should come across with your honest personality: Be fun and entertaining if that’s who you are—don’t try to push across comedy if you’re not funny.

Don’t think an audience will admire you more by trying to “sound smart.” Keep it simple, and keep your audience in mind.

And FYI, people don’t mind seeing you a little nervous; it’s cute and endearing. Alternatively, confidence, not arrogance, comes across nicely.

Bring the Energy 

One of the most important things to remember is that what you think of as “energy” and “enthusiasm” in your normal life will come across as flat and VERY 2-D on camera.

So, without being Robin-Williams-on-speed level manic, it’s very important to bring as much energy as you reasonably can. If you think you’re being too energetic, you’re not.

People that appear on-camera regularly have a “camera” personality that is an equilibrium between genuine and really “popping.” Watch a Ryan Seacrest or Giuliana Rancic.

Do remember, while brining an abundance of energy, you need to speak slowly enough to be understood—nervous people speak too quickly, and then half of what you say is missed.

Above all, don’t forget to smile!

In Closing:

So to review:

C: Say something meaningful, and be prepared

A: Dress with your own style and remember the “rules”

P: Have fun and bring the energy!

If you need any coaching, feel free to contact me directly at neil@alleywire.com. We’re always happy to help!

  • Like Your Liquor

    Great info, Neil. I’d say these tips work well off-camera, too. Networking requires the same things: be prepared, listen, look like you know what you’re doing. I wish I’d read this post before I did my video…. LikeYourLiquor.com
    Cheers!
    Jeanne

  • Rhobin DeLaCruz

    Thanks Neil. Great article.