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- If you have time rehearse with a home videocam and a friend.
- Dress. Solid color clothing, particularly blue, looks best on television. Avoid wild patterned neckwerear and check patterns - they can cause the picture to shimmer.
- Makeup. Apply a little more heavily than usual.
- Answer every question with your relevant key messages, and repeat them at every opportunity. Begin each response with the most important points. Keep your answers as brief as possible.
- Assume that everything is “on the record,” even if the camera is not rolling or the reporter has put away his notebook. If you don’t want a comment made public, don’t make it.
- Don’t use jargon, uncommon acronyms or technical language. Try to simplify your explanations and use analogies to help explain difficult concepts.
- Use the one thought per sentence rule - keep it simple
- Try to keep relaxed. Don’t rush to respond. Pause a second or two after each question to organize your thoughts.
- Be aware of filler words such as “um,” “well” and “you know” and avoid them as much as possible.
- Keep your answers short. The average broadcast sound bite is 10 seconds.
- When you have covered your message point, stop talking! Don’t feel nervous if no one is talking. Wait for the reporter to ask you the next question.
- Speak in the first person, active voice: “I did this,” rather than “This was done.” Be polite, honest and friendly, but keep your tone professional.
- Remember your key points and move back to them in every single answer. If a reporter asks a question you cannot or will not answer, say something like, “I can’t address that issue, but I can tell you …” or “That is interesting, but the issue here is …” If you don’t understand the question or if the question is vague, ask for clarification.
- Never say “No comment.” It makes you look guilty and untrustworthy. If you can’t comment on a point, emphasize what you can say and return to your message points. Do not repeat negative words or inaccurate facts that the reporter uses in a question. Simply correct the inaccuracies and repeat your appropriate message point.
- If you are being interviewed in your official professional capacity, remember that you are representing your institution. Never say anything that contradicts their policy, unless you have intended this from the outset, or puts the institution in a negative light.
- Maintain eye contact. This will hold a reporter’s attention and make you look confident. Never look at the camera or lower your head to speak into the microphone.
- Be careful about nodding your head. It implies that you agree with what a reporter is saying. Also, try not to make dramatic gestures or wave your arms while you speak. The camera angle is probably not wide enough to capture exaggerated movements.
Be enthusiastic and keep in mind that you know more about the subject than the reporter does. Take advantage of this opportunity to tell your story!