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December 28, 2012

Media Tip: 5 Things to Remember Next Time You Go on TV

A guest post from Brad Phillips, author of The Media Training Bible.

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.


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