Tips for Being On TV

I've appeared on a ton of television shows like The Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN Headline News, ABC Nightline, 20/20, TLC's Cake Boss, Pix11, Anderson Cooper and even did a hosting gig for Pier 1 and a pilot for the Bravo Network.  Some of these segments went wonderfully, others were just shy of a crash-and-burn (at least in my perfectionist mindset). Here are a few of the things that I have learned along the way that I wish someone had told me before I did my first tv appearance. 1. What to Wear: Part 1.  Wear solid colors. Patterns, especially small ones, are tough to look at on camera and lines (like pinstripes) become wavy lines. Stick with a solid color. Ladies, make your style statement with a necklace or earrings.

2. Makeup. Wear it! If you can't have it done professionally, then wear evening-level makeup at the very least.  You will feel like a drag queen but if you don't, you risk looking like a psycho on screen. Gents, this goes for you too.  Side Note: never assume that the news outlet will be providing you with hair and makeup, always arrive camera-ready.

Tips for Being on TV

 

3.  What to Wear: Part 2.  You can't wear jangly things. They'll hit your mic and/or cause trouble for the sound guys...ultimately you'll probably be asked to remove them so just skip them in the first place.

4.  Practice.  Imagine the types of questions that the reporter will ask you and practice answering with concise sound-bites. Pretend it's like Miss America and rehearse the perfect 15 second answer. The reporter will never ask you the questions you think they will, but at least you will know what you want to say. Since I'm naturally long-winded, I often need to practice for at least an hour or two the night before.

5.  What to Wear: Part 3.  Don't wear white.  There's a thing called white balance (learn more here) that cameras need to do. If you wear white, you make the cameraperson's job more difficult.

6.  Memory Failure.  Occasionally you might be given lines to read on camera. Don't make the mistake of thinking "I've got a good memory, I'll just skim them ahead of time!"because will remember absolutely nothing once the camera turns on (and probably end up crying to your husband in a car on the way home after the shoot.) Practice those lines until you know them cold - with different intonations, different speeds, frontwards and backwards.  I usually have to spend at least a few hours memorizing just a paragraph or two of lines before a shoot.

7.  What to Wear: Part 4.  Wear something that your mic pack can easily hook to.  Avoid having the clammy hands of a well-meaning sound guy down the back of your dress.  Instead, wear a cute belt or separates.

8.  Smiling.  You will feel like a fool, but you need to smile or have a vague smile on your face at all times. Remember that hilarious viral video about a b*tchy resting face?  Trust me - when it comes to tv, you will have a nervous resting face which translates to b*tchy for all the viewers. When practicing your answers (see #4 and #6), be sure to keep a smile or generally pleasant look on your face at all times. For references, study videos of your favorite newscasters.

9. Speak in sound bites. Start your answers with repeating the interviewer's question (see example below)...it makes the tape easier to edit.  Be concise with your responses and have a defined start and end. No ums, ahs or trailing off. Practice eliminating common words and phrases that we say in normal conversation like "you know?" and "like."

Example Reporter Question: "What is a new trend in weddings today?"

Example Response: "A new trend in weddings today is bridal mohawks because..."

10. Other Details. Live TV is just what it sounds like - no messing up. Live to tape is the same thing - they won't let you re-do anything. For taped (aka pre-recorded) segments, they can re-do things but it's generally frowned upon. If you're doing a remote interview where the reporter is in a different city, you will be locked into a small, windowless room with a camera, desk and an earpiece so you can hear their audio. They will give you a warning of when they're about to start and you'll hear the intro for your segment. Stare directly down the barrel of the camera and blink at a regular pace so you don't look like a serial killer.

11. Bonus Tip!  Have an opinion. Whatever you are being asked, take a side. Chances are you're not running for office, so you won't be taken to task over your opinion. If you are wishy-washy it makes for boring television. Take a stand and stick to it.

Did I miss any good television tips?  Let me know in the comments.