Wednesday, December 8, 2010

5 Media Tips for the Shy & Mighty

Angie here:
Are you shy?
Are you afraid of speaking in public?
Does appearing on TV or radio make you squeemish?

5 tips for those moments in the spotlight might help settle the nerves.

1. Wear a vibrant color that looks good on you.
Why? Confidence for you and appeal to the viewers.
What to avoid: White, red, black, crazy patterns. They don't look good on screen. Reds and patterns can cause visual distraction and color bleeding on the screen on some televisions.

2. Professional attire.
Why? Interviews are given in order to obtain expert opinion or knowledge. Look the part to instill confidence in the interviewer and the audience. Consider it a uniform.

3. Breathe slow, deep breaths.
Why? Calm your nerves, control your heart rate, and get oxygen to your brain. You'll also redirect your thoughts to something simple avoiding sensory overload.

4. Practice with a friend.
Why? You need to be able to cohesively explain your topic in very short bullet points that interest the viewer/listener. The points should flow naturally. Avoid using crutch words like "um", "so", "yeah", and silent nodding/shaking of the head. Allow them to help you rephrase sentences that trip you up by pointing out crutch words.

5. Smile.
Why? Project friendliness and approachability. It'll feel awkward, but practice in front of a mirror or video camera. You'll be surprised how the smiles drop. Rather than watching your mouth, watch the smile in your eyes. You need to sparkle with enthusiasm to keep the interest of the interviewer and audience.

There are many more tips, but these are enough to start if you're serious about learning how to present yourself in the media. No one wants a canned, over-rehearsed guest. But for the shy & mighty alike, preparation is often the key to a successful interview. I often read the section of the book we're discussing as a refresher. Better to refresh than forget publicly and it puts the information back fresh in my mind.

What skill would you like to learn if you could?


  1. Hi Angela:

    I’ve done many interviews and worked in PR for many years. I like everything you said. I’d like to add a few comments about actually getting the media to use your piece once created.

    1. Understand that the PR is for the benefit of the news media. Give them what they want. Never ever complain if they don’t run your interview.

    2. The interviewer wants to look and sound good. Give short answers that will make good sound bites for promos. Never give a long answer as it could kill your interview from running and insure you are not asked for an interview again. Give the interviewer a chance to ask a lot of questions by giving short ‘quotable’ answers. (Do all this even if you are doing a live on air interview.) Remember: your interviewer wants your piece to run. If you make the interviewer look good, if you are a good interview, then you will often be asked to be interviewed. You might even become the ‘local’ expert.

    3. Be prepared to show up anytime, anywhere. I’ve had the media call and say, “Can you be in front of the Mapleridge Condominiums in 45 minutes? We need to do a story for tonight’s news.” Be there! Be known as cooperative. Look at any PR session as a means of developing a long term relationship.

    4. Think of any suggestions that might make the interview better. On radio spots I would try to think of some sounds that would tie into the story. For TV you might know of a better location to film the spot than the reporter.

    Here’s a key: make the media look good, make the interviewer look good, know your subject, speak in quotable sound-bites, be cooperative on time and place. And never complain about the end product.

    Also: give the interviewer a list of other topics you think might make good programming. This has worked very well for me. Reporters who have to come up with their own stories love this. An author might suggest topics like: “How eBooks are changing the way authors write,” “How giving away free eBooks is changing the marketing of books” and “How having hundreds of new eBook publishers is changing the type of books being released.”

    And good luck.


  2. Thanks for sharing these great tips, Angie! I've learned that I have to watch for talking with my hands. On one interview I did at the local cable TV station, I realized I was tapping the glass table as I talked--kind of accenting my points. I was mortified when I realized it and stopped immediately. :)

    Vince, thanks for your tips as well.

  3. All wonderful things to keep in mind. Thanks Angie and Vince.

    How funny Missy, it reminds me of that episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where he did two interviews for some sports show and he did all the wrong things, like scratching his microphone so no one could hear him talk and mispronouncing words. Much worse than your example, thank goodness :) And congrats on the interview. Too bad we can't see them on youtube or something.

  4. Eva Maria, it's been a couple of years since the interview. I did try to post it on youtube, but it was too long. :) I was nervous, but it ended up being fun. It was before my first book came out, and the interviewer was a friend. So she made it much easier!

  5. Oh, also meant to say that we LOVE Everybody Loves Raymond. We own the first three seasons on DVD. :) I think I remember that episode!

  6. Excellent tips and comments back today! I am thrilled to learn from you all too :-) Maybe I'll do another post on this sometime. A lot of people are afraid of public speaking or presentation. This might be a good life skill to teach everyone.

  7. Great tips, Angie. When speaking in front of people I tend to get ahead of myself word-wise. Then I become aware of it and it's a mess!
    Thanks for sharing.