Tag Archives: broadcast

Broadcast interview: A word on dress code

A while ago I watched a public speaking competition. All of the contestants were excellent but one speaker stood out, not because she was better than the rest but because unfortunately she was wearing clanky jewellery with a lapel microphone (also known as a lavalier). You could hear her clearly enough but the clunk, clunk, clunk of the necklace was just as distinct.

This can also be a problem in a broadcast interview. The camera operator or sound person will almost certainly want you to wear a lavalier, and it will pick up any noise nearby. So when preparing for a broadcast interview the first thing to watch for is anything noisy on your person.

A broadcast interview and a crisp white shirt?

When I media train in person I have a choice of shirts in which I look reasonably OK. The first is the old fallback, the crisp white shirt. The second is a selection of finely striped shirts – I kid myself they hide the middle-aged spread (if they don’t, just don’t tell me). Experience has told me, however, that neither is particularly good on video.

The stripes, though fine in person, can end up looking a little grey on a screen. The sparkly, distinct detail on the shirt ends up looking indistinct even in high definition; if someone’s watching on their phone or other device it can actually look a bit grubby.

Brilliant white is better but not under studio lights. It can end up glaring at the camera, so the operator has to turn the lighting down or apply a filter – so I end up looking grey rather than the shirt! Off-white, pink, blue, are all good and will look fine in the studio.

Suit you, sir

The other thing to do is to wear something that fits and in which you’re comfortable. Buying something particularly swish and wearing it for the first time, which is more of a problem for the female population than the “a suit always works” male contingent, can make people feel self-conscious.

For men like me (think “over 50”) a decent suit is indispensable but be honest, does it really fit? It can be worth visiting a tailor. I have particularly square shoulders (tailors call this “squareback” which doesn’t make me feel great) so off-the-peg suits always ruck up at the back. I started with A Suit That Fits (please note that’s a sponsored link) and it’s not as expensive as you might think (more than Marks and Sparks but less than a designer suit); many local tailoring establishments will be just as efficient at making something that works on your shape.

Finally, the newsreader Sir Trevor Macdonald always said it’s a good idea to do your jacket up and sit on the tail, so it looks smooth. Bitter experience a little while ago says this works fine if you’re reasonably slim and svelte; any signs of a belly and you’ll look like a sack of potatoes. Without wishing to incriminate myself, I’ve been doing my interviews with the jacket undone lately!

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.