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What should I ask before a broadcast interview?

Broadcast interviews on television can be nerve racking. In the TV studio people will be able to see you as well as hear you, so how do you prepare? There are a couple of techniques I teach in my media training masterclass which ought to help. Here’s how I learned a couple of them over ten years ago.

Before a broadcast interview

Years ago I did my first broadcast interview on a pre-recorded BBC show called Digital Planet. It was for the BBC World Service and my role was to comment on modern technological advances.

The first story was an interview with someone who was doing something in Zimbabwe. I was a little concerned as I had nothing to say on international affairs beyond what someone might have read in the papers. The presenter assured me there wouldn’t be any difficult questions.

So he did the interview with the woman in question and asked me: “So, what implications does this have for the Zimbabwean position?”

Luckily it was pre-recorded so my first answer, a very long “Ummm……”, was never broadcast. I learned two things on the spot and have stuck to them ever since.

First, the presenter might want to help but if he can’t think of another question he or she might well ask something that will trip you up.

So, second, always ask what the first question is going to be. Most reasonable broadcasters will tell you so you can think about it in advance. As long as you’ve done your general preparation, you should get a reasonably strong start out of that.

Basic preparation for a TV interview

…is basically the same as prep for any other media interview. We’ll take it as read that you know your stuff. Go in with three points you’d really like to make about the subject or about your business, get them out quickly and after that listen to the questions and answer them as far as possible. If you get a chance to talk to the presenter about what they need and the context of your interview, that’s even better.

My most recent BBC interview, for the BBC London news bulletin, was better – so much so that they used my comment to trail the news item in the headlines at the top of the show rather than a comment from the company I was talking about.

Do you need help to make your broadcast interviews work for your business – and would you like me to coach you in the London studio in the picture on this story? Fill in the form below or email me by clicking here and we’ll talk.


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