Appearing on television can be an odd experience, especially for spokespersons who aren't familiar with some of the more challenging formats (such as "remote" interviews, in which spokespersons look directly into a camera and speak to a host in a different location).
This post will help strip away some of the mystery by arming you with five details you'll need to know prior to your next television interview.
1. Remember that you're always on: Interviews don't officially "begin" when the cameraman presses the record button or "end" when he turns it off. Anything you say before, during, or after the "official" interview--including any telephone or email exchanges--can be quoted in a news story. That's a lesson Carly Fiorina learned the hard way shortly after winning California's Republican nomination for Senate in 2010:
2. Ignore the monitor: Television monitors in the studio often show a feed that is delayed by a fraction of a second. That can be extremely distracting, so unless you're an experienced television guest, ignore the monitor. Even better, ask a member of the crew to turn off the monitors or turn them away.
3. Beware the split screen: In some formats, you will appear on camera even when you're not speaking. Those "split screen" shots show you and at least one other person at the same time, and "reaction" shots show your reaction to another guest's comments. Act as if you're always on, being careful not to wipe your face, adjust your glasses, or fix your outfit during your segment.
4. Restrict your nodding: It's normal to nod when listening to someone else, but nodding can send the wrong message if you disagree with the premise of someone's question or comment. Listen attentively, but only nod along if you agree.
5. Avoid (or preplan) props: We've all seen that television guest who holds up a piece of paper or newspaper article during a television appearance. It's usually a bad idea. Few people know how to position an item properly for the camera, so it usually ends up distracting the audience. If you want to show something during your interview, talk to the producer first. The producer can help the crew prepare for the shot in advance.
Taegan D. Goddard is the founder of Political Wire, one of the earliest and most influential political web sites.
Goddard spent more than a decade as managing director and chief operating officer of a prominent investment firm in New York City. Previously, he was a policy adviser to a U.S. Senator and Governor.
Goddard is also co-author of You
Won - Now What? (Scribner, 1998), a political
management book hailed by prominent journalists and politicians from
both parties. In addition, Goddard's essays on politics and public
policy have appeared in dozens of newspapers across the country,
including the Washington Post, USA Today, Boston Globe, San Francisco
Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer and Christian Science
Goddard earned degrees from Vassar College and Harvard University. He lives in New York with his wife and three sons.
PRAISE FOR POLITICAL WIRE
"There are a lot of blogs and news sites claiming to understand
politics, but only a few actually do. Political Wire is one of them."
-- Chuck Todd, NBC News political director
"Concise. Relevant. To the point. Political Wire is the first site I check when I’m looking for the latest political nugget. That pretty much says it all."
-- Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report
"Political Wire is one of only four or five sites that I check every
day and sometimes several times a day, for the latest political news
-- Charlie Cook, editor of the Cook Political Report
"The big news, delicious tidbits, pearls of wisdom -- nicely packaged, constantly updated... What political junkie could ask for more?"
-- Larry Sabato, Center for Politics, University of Virginia
"Political Wire is a great, great site."
-- Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC's Morning Joe
"If I were on the proverbial
desert island and had only one web site to access, Political Wire would
-- Dotty Lynch, CBS News political consultant
"Taegan Goddard has a knack for digging out political gems that too
often get passed over by the mainstream press, and for delivering the
latest electoral developments in a sharp, no frills style that makes
his Political Wire an addictive blog habit you don't want to kick."
-- Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post
"Political Wire is one of the absolute must-read sites in the blogosphere."
-- Glenn Reynolds, founder of Instapundit
"I rely on Taegan Goddard's Political Wire for straight, fair political news, he gets right to the point. It's an eagerly anticipated part of my news reading."
-- Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist.
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