Let’s say you or your client have landed some television coverage. You’re in the studio for the first time. I’ve been into the BBC news studios probably a hundred times. One of the first and most basic points I picked up was the answer to the question: where do I look?
There are in fact two answers to this. One is to look straight at the interviewer. Don’t worry about the odd glance around, you don’t want to go all rabbit-in-the-headlights, and if you’re going to glance anywhere try not to make it at your watch, but mostly look at the person to whom you are talking rather than someone playing at being on television.
I can cite many reasons for this approach. First, you’ll find it easier if you’re talking to one person rather than imagining yourself talking to a few million. That’s intimidating. Second, the interviewer will give you a focal point when all this other interesting stuff is happening around you. When I first did the BBC’s newspaper review a few years ago I was fascinated that the television cameras moved around without an operator attached and had to focus very hard on not looking at them (I was also thrown by the fact that the studio was actually in the news room, although why I should have expected otherwise I don’t know).
Third, you’ll look more sincere. Remember all those years ago when Bob Geldof launched Band Aid? That’s a reference for the teenagers, obviously. He kept looking at the camera and actually looked shifty and uncomfortable when he was delivering the most sincere and best motivated interview of his life. Look past the camera and at the person if at all possible.
Down the line
I said there were two possible answers. The other one is the “down the line” interview, when you’re not in the same room as the interviewer. You’ll have seen this on the news; Huw Edwards or whoever looks at a screen and a journalist or other expert/commentator appears to look straight at him. Of course they’re not, they’re looking at the camera.
That works and is a different sort of television interview – try never to get them mixed up and you should have a good start.
The picture above is of the TV studio in Bayswater from which I offer broadcast media training in my masterclass. If you’d like to know more, drop me a note by clicking here or filling in the form below and we’ll talk.