By Samantha Jacobson, Founder of TenXPR
If you’re an expert, business owner or author looking to reach an audience, chances are you’ve thought about giving your message a platform – and a TV news interview is a great one to consider. Why? It’s the perfect way to not only gain exposure for your brand, product, or expertise, it also offers the unique opportunity to visually connect with an audience.
If the thought of a TV appearance overwhelms you, you’re not alone. That’s why I’m sharing everything you need to know in case your big break comes calling!
Here’s how news interviews work, from start to finish.
Producers will look for experts to add color to a news story they are working on.
Whether it’s a breaking news story, a trending topic, or a complicated situation, network producers are always searching for experts who can share insightful information on any given topic to help their audience understand it better. To find who they are looking for, producers will comb through reputable news sites and academic sources to ensure they find someone with an impressive resume that has the capacity to break down complicated topics.
If you do not have much of a presence online or on TV, chances are you will not be sought out. However, you can try pitching yourself to network producers and showcasing how you can speak to a news-breaking, trending, or complicated story using your unique expertise.
If your background is interesting to them, they will contact you.
If the producer thinks your background is a fit for their story, they will contact you fairly quickly. During this initial conversation, the producer will ask you some questions related to the story they are working on to get a feel for what you would say and how you would say it.
It’s important to know that this initial conversation is not an interview, but rather a way for the producer to get to know you and establish a relationship with you before the real deal.
If they’re happy with the initial conversation, they will set up an on-camera interview.
Now, this is the real deal – it’s time to prepare for your interview! Just make sure you don’t half-heartedly prepare for the sake of preparing; interviews (especially on-camera interviews) need to be well thought-out. Plus, you usually only get one shot, so make it count!
To ensure a successful interview, follow these 4 key principles and you’ll knock it out of the park!
Be ready to explain an event or topic to an audience.
This is the whole purpose of an interview, so this one is important! But it’s especially important to break it down in a way that anyone can understand, no matter their background.
As an expert, you have the unique ability to speak at the highest level about what you do because well, you’re the expert! However, keep in mind that your audience is not. That’s why it’s crucial to think about how you can boil down complicated topics into layman’s terms.
Establish a relationship with the interviewer.
The interviewer took the time to establish a relationship with you, now it’s your turn. Make sure you know what is expected of you ahead of your interview. It is also helpful to share some talking points with your interviewer no less than a couple of days before the interview (if you have that time) to make the process as smooth as possible on both ends.
However, not all interviewers are equal. Just as there are pleasant interviewers, there are also interviewers who can come across as hostile or uninformed, making for a difficult experience all around. Some even play games that are meant to catch you off guard or trick you into saying something you’d prefer not to. You never know when this can happen, so it’s important to prepare ahead of the interview.
This article outlines common “interviewer types”, question traps and appropriate responses you can try in the event you have a hostile or uninformed interviewer on your hands.
Answer the questions in a short and concise way.
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who is talking in circles, to the point where you zone out? The same thing can happen to viewers if you’re not short and concise in your interview.
This is especially true when you consider how long a TV interview lasts. In most cases, you only get a few minutes for the entire piece, especially if the producer slots you into an existing segment.
That said, the best way to stay concise is by explaining who you are and what you do in 30 seconds. Explaining your background is where most people get stuck droning on and on, but sticking to 30 seconds for this part of the interview will leave you plenty of time to get to your interviewer’s questions while keeping your audience engaged.
Another tip is to ensure you get your point across in 3 minutes or less. I’ll admit this takes practice, but I talk all about my 3-minute formula here if you don’t know where to start.
Make your answers meaningful.
Keeping your answers short is just part of what makes a great interview, but crafting your answers in a meaningful way is the key to keeping your audience engaged.
There are a few helpful tips you can try to ensure your interview is snooze-proof and your message is all the more relevant:
- Focus on the facts. If you don’t have any on hand, do a quick Google search to find stats related to the topic.
- Be vulnerable. Add a personal touch by sharing a short story related to the topic.
- Ask yourself, why me? Make sure your answers showcase why your expertise matters.
- Remember, it’s a conversation, not a speech. Take your time, make eye contact, listen to the questions carefully, and engage with the interviewer.
The interviewer will be prepared to learn your background and ask you the right questions. Make sure you hold up your end, too. Remember, nothing negative can come out of being prepared – only the best possible experience for you, the interviewer, and the audience.