Getting the basics right: looking good for TV

July 22, 2013 by Alex Johnson

This amusing clip of a BBC weather forecaster, whose smiley face turns into a frosty glare when she’s finished her report, shows it’s best to assume you are still ‘on camera’ until someone tells you otherwise.

It’s a simple thing to remember but what you do and how you and your surroundings look on TV can be as important as what you say.

How many interviews have we been distracted by the CEO’s wonky tie or nervous hand wringing? Equally, what of those where the background action is more interesting than the spokesperson?

In the heat of a crisis the importance of getting visual presentation right is even more pressing. Footage is replayed for days, TV interviews scrutinised and the viewers’ patience with errors dramatically reduced.

So, all that effort spent honing and refining key messages in a boardroom is only valuable if you invest time into thinking about how it will look. Some of it is simple: a quick check by a colleague before you go on air to check you’re presentable, remembering to keep your hands by your side if nervous gestures may get the better of you or simply staying still, and in shot, until you’re told the piece is over.

Location shots may be more challenging, particularly in crisis situations, but if the interview is prearranged don’t be afraid to suggest suitable sites for the crew to set up.

TV will always want fire and brimstone but it’s vital to remember that in a crisis situation the purpose of the interview is about clarifying the situation and any actions you are taking.

A neutral location, combined with the right media training and common sense will help achieve this.

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