• July 2014

22 Tips for Shining on TV

By Robin A. Miller, PhD, COO/Lead Coach
and Hilary Blair, Head ARTiculator and Lead Coach
ARTiculate Real & Clear: Clear Communication Is an Art, ARTiculateRC.com

When David Bruce Smith and Hope Katz Gibbs launched the “Grateful American™ TV Show”: in February 2014, the co-hosts asked the question that all of our clients want to know: How can we shine in a medium that we don’t have much experience working in?

Fair enough. Smith and Gibbs have been journalists and writers for decades—but being in front of the camera, as opposed to behind it, presents different challenges.

The good news is that this is an area we specialize in at ARTiculate Real & Clear. And while it takes some time to master the spotlight, practicing the following tips, with patience, will help you develop skill and confidence.

Naturally, entrepreneurs and small-business owners who are stepping into the TV interview world will have different levels of experience—and a variety of needs.

Our tips will give you ideas to consider, whether you’re preparing to be interviewed on TV, creating videos for your products and services, and/or—like Smith and Gibbs’ Grateful American™ TV Show—hosting your own show.

Here’s to communicating real and clear!

Tips for Shining on TV

Get ready for your close-up:

  • Know that this is a brave new world: If you’ve never been on camera before, you may be shocked to see yourself from this angle. Don’t be intimidated—prepare for it by knowing ahead of time that what feels comfortable in your normal, daily life (such as your posture, delivery, and even your make-up) will come across differently on camera.
  • Put your best face forward: Ask the producer how much of your face and body will appear in the shot. If it’s a close-up versus a full-body shot, realize that your hands won’t be in the frame. Animated gestures and head movements, which can work well in a wide shot, will be distracting in a tight close-up.
  • Prepare to be too close for comfort: You’ll likely be standing much closer to the people who are interviewing you on camera than you are accustomed to. That’s because the comfortable personal space we enjoy in real life appears on camera as if you don’t like the person you are talking to! So be prepared to stand close.
  • Stay loose: Similarly, in a wide shot you’ll want to avoid crossing your arms and legs. And be sure to be aware of what your hands are doing because they will be visible.
  • Strike a pose: Be very conscious of your posture. If you are seated at a table, maintain a tall torso. If you are seated in a big cushy chair, sit forward. If you are standing, be sure not to sway.
  • Glam up: Even if you don’t consider yourself a fashion diva, when you are on TV, your clothing, hair, and makeup matter—for both men and women. Don’t wear white or busy patterns. Clean lines are best. It’s also a good idea to visit a professional hairdresser the day before the taping to be sure your mane looks well-coiffed from all angles. Makeup is essential for women, who should wear more than they would in real life (consulting a professional make-up artist is always advisable). Also, powder for both men and women is necessary to combat the “shine” from skin and lights.
  • The eyes have it: We are drawn to people through their eyes. In person it’s the whole body, in phone/webinars it’s the voice, and on camera—it’s the eyes. We read things into what we think we see in someone’s eyes, so be aware that your thoughts show up in your eyes. As they say, your eyes are the windows to your soul. Keep your focus strong.
  • Smile: And be authentic about it, for this tells viewers you are engaged and connected. Being engaged and appearing pleasant is very important on camera—especially if you are being interviewed about your business. Be careful not to let a nervous smile creep in if the conversation gets serious since that can be off-putting for the audience.e When you are listening to someone else on camera, do not let your face go “dead.” Listen actively, with a slight smile. Though it’s a lot to keep in mind, being conscious of your every move when you are on camera will result in a much better final product.

Emotionally speaking:

  • Be present: Stay in the moment so that your responses don’t sound “canned.” Of course, rehearse, practice, and know your information. Then simply let it flow.
  • Prepare: This will be easier if, prior to the engagement, you are able to get (or provide) a list of the questions you are going to be asked. Then spend time figuring out how you want to respond to the questions, developing talking points, and coming up with ways to transition to those.
  • Stay focused: When being interviewed, look at the interviewer while he or she is speaking, and also maintain eye contact during your responses. If appropriate, you can glance to the camera to include the audience, especially if you are making a point. But use this tactic sparingly.
  • Keep your responses brief. Short “thought chunks” versus long, rambling sentences will keep the audience interested. This will also provide the editors with little snippets to use as sound bites to tease the show throughout the broadcast or as commercials.
  • Keep marketing in mind. Mention your company name in a few of your answers, without overdoing it.
  • And remember, you can always say, “I don’t know.” While it may seem that you should be able to answer every question asked (after all, you are supposed to be an expert), it’s fine to reroute the discussion by acknowledging the question and responding with a different answer—or simply saying you don’t know.

Doing a promo for your products and services?

EASE into it:

  • Eyes: Look right into the camera, because you are talking to your audience. Speak your message spontaneously, and know your script very well. Try not to use a Teleprompter because reading a script that you are pretending not to read is a very specific skill. It is better to embrace the idea that you know your information better than anyone. And remember, you can always re-record until you get the message you want on tape.
  • Authenticity: People who are going to want to buy your product or service will need to see that you are sincere and capable of making a real connection. So embrace the idea of showing off the “real you” versus trying to perfect your wording. After all, people buy from people they like and trust. So aim to convey that you are likable and trustworthy.
  • Smile: It is essential. A confident, fun-filled face tells the world that you like yourself, that your company is successful, and that your products and services work. If you truly believe it, the audience will, too.
  • Energy: Keep your energy up and engaging—and entertaining, if appropriate.

Hosting your own show?

Great! Here’s how to master the medium:

  • Stage Right: If you are the focus of the talk show, sit on the right side of the stage (as seen from the audience’s point of view). If you want your guests to be the focus, sit on the left side of the stage (audience point of view). Do a little homework and watch a TV talk show to see how the pros do it.
  • Script it: Having a script to work from is a great place to start. Know, of course, that you’ll go off-script as the conversation unfolds. Be sure to facilitate the conversation as if the audience is the third member in the conversation. This is where it’s important to keep your eyes moving between the guest, your co-host, and the audience, as appropriate. Where you direct your attention is all part of the script—and will lead to a better show.
  • Be succinct: As the interview evolves, stay focused on the main point of the conversation (be it the life of Alexander Hamilton, or an interview with a Truly Amazing Woman.). Then fill in the details. We call it “Flip it and Bang”™ — which keeps the discussion moving quickly, starting with the key points and then leaving the crowd wanting to learn more. Be careful of thinking that everyone is hanging onto your every word, waiting for the punchline or brilliant conclusion. Most times you’ve lost them after you make the first point.
  • Avoid saying “but”: Observe yourself today as you converse with others and count how many time you say something, followed by the word, “but.” On an unconscious level, this word stops the flow of energy—especially in an interview, because you are negating what your guest just said. If you replace “but” with “yes, and,” as a response, it shows that you acknowledge what your guest just said and makes them look good. In turn, it makes you look good. Note that “but” has its place; reserve it for when you really want to challenge someone.

Questions, comments, ideas? Send an email to Robin Annette Miller, and Hilary Blair.


About Robin A. Miller

Robin Miller is an energetic, motivational keynote speaker who has also spent more than 20 years in teaching, training, and coaching. Her specialty is in guiding the well-thought individual to become confidently well-spoken in settings such as interviews, meetings, and keynotes. Her clients include Coors, University of Denver, and Sterisil.

She has performed vocally and conducted numerous musical groups throughout her career, as well as taught music at Baylor University, The University of North Texas, and Texas Christian University. Her expertise in navigating customer communication derives from her experience as a customer relationship manager in the financial industry, and as a development specialist in some of Denver’s leading Level 1 trauma centers, as well as her advanced training in mediation and crucial conversations. She earned an MM in Music, a PhD from the University of North Texas in Musicology, and a Master of Divinity from Iliff School of Theology.

About Hilary Blair

CEO and lead coach for Articulate: Real & Clear, Hilary Blair, MFA, with physiological guidance from Jennifer Spielman, MM, MA, CCC-SLP, is an admitted breath snob.

A presentation and speaking voice expert, Blair is a highly regarded coach and facilitator working extensively across the United States with businesses that include American Express, Janus Funds, Staples, Liberty Global, and Hunter Douglas. She uses her skills and experience as a stage, film, and voice-over actor, teacher, and voice coach to help people in a variety of positions, including entrepreneurs, CEOs, writers, and project managers.

Her coaching is informed by what is unique and authentic in the individual or group. In addition, she facilitates workshops that use improvisation to improve leadership skills, team-building, and creativity. She is on the faculty of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and has been adjunct faculty for a number of universities. An active member of Toastmasters and a board member of VASTA—the Voice and Speech Trainers Association—she holds an MFA in acting from the National Theatre Conservatory and a BA from Yale University.

Blair and Miller acknowledge the amazing voice teachers with whom they have had the privilege of working: Chuck Jones, Rocco Dal Vera, Gary Logan, Patsy Rodenburg, Catherine Fitzmaurice, and Kristen Linklater, to name a few.

For more information, visit Articulate Real & Clear: Clear Communication Is an Art, at ARTiculateRC.com