Being interviewed on TV or radio is for many, a daunting prospect – like, would rather walk over hot coals daunting. But having thousands or even millions of people listen to your story can be truly transformational for a business. So what happens when it’s lights, camera, action? We’ve asked friends on the other side of the microphone – senior journalists at Sky News, the BBC and ITV – to share their top tips on how to handle the spotlight.
Terry Goodwin, News Editor, BBC
- Know your subject. You should always know more than the person asking the questions
- Don’t start reading off your notes, unless you need a particular figure or phrase. You lose credibility if you don’t sound natural – you’re having a conversation!
- What angle are you taking? Be clear about the message you’re putting across – and don’t waffle
- In most cases, don’t sell or plug. In a pre-record, it’s the least likely bit broadcast media will use
Gareth Owen, Planning Editor, ITV Central
- Don’t script it too tightly – and I mean on paper, or memorised! It sounds terrible on telly and radio, and will not cut through to the viewers and listeners. Just try to remember three key ideas or themes rather than words and sentences
- Don’t keep talking for the sake of it. If you have nothing more to say, just stop talking. You’ll only end up gabbling. It’s our job to fill the dead air
- Leave your industry buzzwords and jargon in the office! People at home DO understand what ‘consulting stakeholders about this’ means, but it screams ‘corporate’ and many will simply glaze over with boredom. Try ‘talking to people about this’ instead
Lisa Dowd, Sky News
- Know who you are talking to. Is it BBC Newsnight or BBC Newsround? Your answers should be tailored to their very different audiences
- Be succinct with your answers – and get your point across within 20 seconds. Broadcasters rarely have time for any more than that. You might find your answer ‘chopped down’ otherwise
- For TV think about what you’re wearing – tidy hair, no distracting jewellery, ties or make-up. You want people to hear what you’re saying, not be thinking about what you look like
- Arrive in plenty of time for interviews so you’re not feeling flustered. Broadcasters are often working to tight time constraints and you could be the umpteenth interviewee of the day
- Finally – answer the question! Simple – but some interviewees have a tendency to ramble. Keep to the point and use simple language – no jargon.