If Andy Warhol was right and "in the future everybody will be world famous for 15 minutes," you want to be prepared beforehand in order to prevent becoming infamous. These 10 tips will help get you ready before the cameras turn toward you.
1. The Eyes Have It - When face-to-face with an interviewer, focus on the the person asking the questions and not on the camera. If you are at a remote location (as is frequently the case on Nightline) maintain eye contact with the camera lens at all times. When pausing to think, look down - not up. You don't want viewers to think you're rolling your eyes.
2. Dress Conservatively - Wear solid colors with an emphasis on blues and browns. Avoid white shirts, plaids and checkered patterns. Also, bring along a backup outfit just in case you spill your coffee or sweat stains appear.
3. Posture Matters - When sitting during an interview, lean forward around 20 degrees when you talk to open up your diaphragm, increase your air supply, prevent you from slumping and make you look engaged in the discussion. Do not let your back touch the back of your chair.
4. Practice - Being on TV under lights, wearing makeup and looking into a camera is an artificial environment and is stressful. You have seconds to sell your story. Practice in your bathroom mirror with a stopwatch. Or use a video camera and have someone you trust critique your delivery. This sort of preparation will enable you to exude calm cool confidence during the actual interview and prevents a case of the "ums."
5. Makeup is Your Friend - A layer of pancake makeup will prevent the glistening that hot TV lights can produce. Guys usually cringe at the thought of makeup, but if it's good enough for the leader of the free world, it's good enough for you.
6. Bridge to Your Message - You have key messages prepared so use them. Acknowledge any questions you're asked, but always bridge back to your key messages during an interview. Also, reiterate those messages if you're asked to provide a sound check or give a closing thought.
7. Remove Distractions - Turn cellphones and pagers off, lose the gum, remove coins from pockets, don't hold a pen and ask the technician to turn off the TV set by the camera so you're not tempted to see how you look during the interview. Also, avoid chairs that swivel and rock. They are too tempting, especially when you get nervous.
8. Think in Soundbites - Journalists tell stories for a living. You can help them do their job by using examples, anecdotes and graphics. Telling stories also helps break your conversation into soundbites.
9. Remain Calm - Anything can happen in TV news, so be prepared and try to accommodate any unexpected changes. Don't be phased if an in-studio interview changes to a satellite hookup or an interview that was supposed to be taped suddenly is carried live. Flexibility is a must.
10. Smile! - Television observes everything, especially posture, energy and facial expression. Watch the delivery of TV news anchors and you'll see how much they accentuate what they say with unspoken cues. If possible, take a brisk walk before going on camera to get your blood flowing and wake yourself up.