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Speakers Bureau

Television Interview Tips


When you receive the call from a television producer, consider this pre-interview an audition. Never take this stage for granted and only agree to a pre-interview once you know how you want to respond. Never agree to an immediate telephone interview. Simply make arrangements to call the representative back at a mutually agreed upon time. Give yourself a few minutes to consider your theme and your major points and stick to them.

General Info

There are generally four types of questions you will face:



  • Focus
    Gives you the opportunity to expand on your previous statement. Use this time to go into further detail or illustration.
  • Avoidance
    Question you would rather not answer. You must answer it. Acknowledge the question, repeat key parts in positive terms, then, bridge it into a key point you want to make.
  • Control
    You pose the question back to the interviewer. Respond to the question, then ask a question, extended from that initial question, and point it to either the interviewer or the audience.
  • "Must"
    Asks factual data. Answer the question and follow up with key points.


  • Define your objectives.
    List the three most important messages you want to deliver. Support each main point with three or four subpoints if time allows (usually in ten-second sound bites).
  • State the most important facts immediately.
    Put key points at the beginning so they're clear and isolated, then, elaborate as time permits.
  • Keep answers brief.
    Long answers often make the interviewee appear nervous or anxious.
  • Use crisp, quotable statements.
    A quotable statement can merit additional coverage in the next morning's newspaper. Say it and pause. Practice it.
  • Check in advance how much air-time you will get.
    You will then be able to better plan responses and objectives. The average evening news show allots no more than 40-45 seconds. Talk shows may let you have 8-12 minutes.


  • Maintain control. This includes posture, body language, and eye contact.
  • Be on guard. Always assume the microphone is on.
  • Establish eye contact with the interviewer. Do not let your eyes wander. The camera will pick up shifting eyes, making you appear uncomfortable, defensive, and unsure of yourself.
  • Watch your non-verbal communication. Studies indicate that only seven percent of a speaker's message is communicated by the spoken word. The rest is dependent on the quality of the delivery ( body language and tone of voice.


  • Distract audience, i.e. blow nose, drink water, fix hair.
  • Assume that the reporter's off-camera personality and demeanor will extend on-camera. A deferential, polite reporter off-camera may well be setting you up for a thorough grilling on-camera.
  • Watch the monitor (the television set visible to you in the studio).
  • Drink alcohol or smoke prior to your interview. Also avoid carbonated drinks; they can affect your speaking voice.
  • Eat large meals before your interview.


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