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Tips for making the best of your TV interview

The ideal candidate for a television interview, should look like George Clooney, have the dress-sense of Pierce Brosnan and the delivery of Anthony Hopkins. Regrettably, this is not always the case and the mixture of talents is rather thin on the ground, particularly in the technology sector.

What follows are a number of tips and suggestions, grounded on three years experience at Sky News Business Report, meeting many leading figures in ebusiness, information technology and politics.

Never forget that Television is an entertainment medium

The eighties were a lot of fun but fashion moves on.

Conservatism can be reassuring. It suggests competence and control to the audience.

Sensible Suit – Sensible Shirt – Sensible Haircut – Sensible Tie.

People notice little things, Bill Clinton wears a plastic watch and Tony Blair wears blue contact lenses.

The dividing line between confidence and pompous arrogance is a narrow one.

Richard Branson owns a sweater a balloon and a beard.

Because someone is the most senior executive in an organization is no good reason to inflict him or her on a television audience.

When a woman is interviewed, the audience will notice her looks, her clothes and her weight before anything else. Consequently, the soundbite is critical.

Weight and credibility don’t mix well.

Strong primary colours will attract the Coastguard but will dazzle the audience.

Sit straight and avoid a double chin.

Spectacles tell the world that you are intelligent. Designer spectacles tell the world that you are German.

Strong central European accents don’t make good television.

Avoid swivel chairs and sit still.

Look at the interviewer not at the camera.

Understand who your audience are.

Use broad brush strokes when dealing with technology.

Assume you are live at least fifteen seconds before the interview starts.

The length of the answer is frequently inversely proportional to one’s comfort with the subject. A good interviewer will spot this.

Give an opinion in twenty seconds and an answer in twelve.

Arrive at the interview with at least one good soundbite and leave it there.

Inflection can be as important as presentation. It’s called delivery!

If you have to use your hands then limit your gestures and rest them intertwined. Don’t use them to fidget with.

Humour is the best antidote against a hostile interview

Avoid unconscious expressions and gestures that tell the audience that you wish to be loved.

Authority comes with confidence, it can’t be taught

If the interview starts to move against you, take the initiative.

On radio you need to be smart on television you can escape with being good looking!

What is most wonderful about your company is the part that is most likely to end up on the cutting-room floor.

The BBC invariably has its own agenda. This will rarely coincide with your own.

Never retreat behind “It’s what our customers want”

What’s the worst question you could be asked? - Prepare for it.

Repetition is the last refuge of the desperate.

Don’t worry about contradicting the interviewer. You are there because you are supposed to know what you are talking about.


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