Tag Archives: broadcasting tips

Broadcast interview tips: Get your message in early

My media training offering covers a number of elements, including developing your message and broadcast training. One thing that comes up often is: if you’re being interviewed on screen or on audio, how quickly should you introduce your prepared messages?

The answer is “flaming quickly”. The reason isn’t that you want to sound like a politician ignoring the question, that’s always a bad thing. The reason is that attention spans tend to fall off a cliff immediately you start to speak. Don’t take my word for it: the chart on this link from Statistics Britain suggests that you have just over eight seconds to hold people’s attention. Four of those may be taken up as the interviewer introduces you.

This doesn’t mean people will be switching off, just that they’re likely to be less engaged after a short period of time. So what do you do?

Broadcast your message

The first thing to do, always, is to acknowledge the question. Nobody likes to hear someone ignoring the point completely, as I established in this entry. But you don’t have to answer it immediately.

Consider this. You’re asked a question that’s nothing to do with your central message. You can answer it, or you could start with:

  • That’s an important point and I’ll address it. First, it’s important to understand…
  • I’ll get to that point but I need to make a few things clear…
  • That’s really important but before I answer, your viewers need to know where I’m coming from.

Obviously you need to remember to come back to the question otherwise you will sound arrogant. And remember a journalist will see through any flannel quite quickly so your messages will need to be thought through, unlike (to be non-partisan) pretty much either side of the Europe debate currently happening in the UK.

Answer the question but don’t be afraid to get the message out there – your knowledge and authority is why they’re talking to you in the first place, don’t be afraid to use it!

Do you need help with your media messaging or delivery? I’ve been a journalist since the 1980s and can help. Email me by clicking here or call me on +44 7973 278780 and we’ll talk.

Corporate video interviews: let the journalist think

I’ve been shooting a corporate video today. It’s been good because the interviewee is lively and knows her subject really well. The only minor frustration was that the client dictated the questions to ask.

I don’t have a massive objection. They were pretty good questions as it happens (which is not always the case). I have a good feeling about this one.

On other occasions it’s been less good. Sometimes I get given a list of questions and instructed not to divert from them.

Why would you hire a journalist with 27 years of experience and just get him to read questions out, not allowing him or her to use any initiative?

Corporate video needs to engage

Corporate videos, even more than other videos, needs to be engaging to the viewer. It’s not enough that your company gets a mention; you need people to be watching, not switching off and hopefully reacting to whatever your points are.

If you’re hiring a journalist to present it, the chances are very good that they’ll know a few tricks to make this work. They’ll also know how to ask questions to get a really good answer, to provoke some thought.

I had it again when someone confirmed me as host of a round table. They wanted a comprehensive list of questions to be asked, and they wanted it before I’d seen their main presentation.

The simple answer was that I didn’t know what I was going to ask. I’d be listening and using my intelligence while they were speaking.

You pay for skills, use them!

It’s not control freakery. I’m genuinely convinced people are worried that if a journalist is given a free rein at their event, they’ll run riot and the important messages will be lost. That may well be true of some of us. The majority, though, will be aware that they need to understand the brief and deliver according to it.

It’s crazy to go to the expense of hiring a journalist to present your event or film and then not leverage the skills we bring – why not take a chance and see how much we can upgrade your corporate video? The example with which I started allowed me some leeway and, I hope, benefited from it. Why not join them?

Do you need help presenting corporate videos? I can help as a presenter or coach – contact me by clicking here.

Broadcast interviews: watch yourself

A Facebook friend had been to the launch of a new camera and queried the need for video as standard. I commented that I always send people away from broadcast media training sessions with video of themselves; her response was that she hated watching herself on video.

Which is fine from her point of view as she’s not one of my delegates. However, the media is going more and more “video” – YouTube is the second largest search engine according to some reports so you have no option, you have to take it seriously if you’re building a business.

This means knowing what you look like on screen.

Broadcast tips

There are a few things you can do to make it all look a bit neater. First, ignore your instincts. You’re going to spot that you don’t look 25 any more, it’s time to get back to the gym (I’m going today for the third time after a video interview last week!) and every stammer is going to be a stake through your heart. Nobody else cares about this stuff.

You can, however, put a little polish on. First, establish in your own mind which points are the most important for you to make and gently steer the conversation around to them (don’t, though, ignore the questions completely, as I established last week). Second, make sure you’re dressed comfortably – if you’re buying a suit or dress for the occasion, wear it a couple of times before the interview so it doesn’t make you self-conscious.

Don’t worry excessively about your movements; I once trained someone whose PR executive stopped them every time they made the smallest gesture. They ended up looking like someone with some sort of condition, no matter how happy the PR person was.

Also remember to wear blocks of colour. Modern TV and video technology has eliminated a lot of the strobing that used to happen with older televisions but it can still look distracting.

Other than that, have something relevant to say and you should be fine.

The picture above is of the board room in which I media train people for broadcast media – the screen on the wall is a live feed from the studio in the same corridor. Do you want to be interviewed on camera in a real studio for a session? Contact me for details.

Where do you look during a television interview?

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.