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.