Resources for Faculty

TV Interview Tips

  1. Wear clothing that is neat and comfortable.
  • Select something you feel good wearing.
  • Plain attire is best.
  • Avoid:
    • large, bright patterns;
    • small patterns of stripes or checks;
    • bright red, as it may bleed into the background;
    • solid white or black, which on their own can be overpowering on camera.
  • Solid pastels work best on camera.
  • Remember you are representing the university. Don’t wear clothes with the insignia of another organization or university.
  1. Refine your message.
  • Limit your key points to three. Think about them in advance.
  • Have a few prepared sound bites – 10 seconds is a good length – so there is no room to edit them.
  • Offer examples that help make your message personal. Telling stories also helps break your conversation into soundbites.
  • Try not to over-prepare. Never write a script or memorize answers. You will look and sound like a robot. Write down a few key points (three is ideal) in bullet point form. This will help you sound natural and confident.
  • Talk with the reporter about the interview or panel before it starts. Find out what the questions might be so you can prepare your responses.
  • Don’t ever tell a reporter not to talk about something. That means you will likely get that question.
  1. When the camera rolls.
  • Talk to the interviewer (look at him/her) – or, in a panel situation, to the person you mean to address. Eye contact is important.
  • Avoid looking into the camera. If you can’t look at a person, pick something else to focus on.
  • Sit if possible; don’t stand.
  • Talk clearly in short phrases.
  • Gestures are fine for emphasis, but don’t overdo it.
  • Try not to talk too fast.
  • If you get an unexpected question, don’t answer right away. Take a moment and collect your thoughts before you begin. Try not to say “um” or other filler words.
  • Silent pauses are okay. And if you really do not have an answer, or it is a subject about which you are not familiar, just say so.
  • Be passionate and truthful.
  1. Stay focused.
  • If you are asked a question that is off topic, try to lead the discussion back on topic. This is called bridging – you bridge to what you want to get across.
    • Bridging example: “I can’t comment on what Professor Jones has said, [BRIDGE TO] but I have found that in my own research…..”
  • Don’t worry if you repeat yourself.
  • Never repeat a reporter’s negative terms or phrasing. You don’t want that to be the clip that appears on TV. Answer with a positive, and bridge to your key points:
    • Q:“Why has your research failed to …?”
    • A: “My research has expanded the understanding of…”
  1. Beware the B roll.
  • If you are asked to “chat” while the cameraman shoots “B” roll (non-interview footage, cutaway shots, etc.), be sure your body language and comments are appropriate.
  • Be aware that any answers you provide or comments you make during this time can be used on the air.