Andy Warhol is famous, among other things, for saying that everyone has his or her 15-minutes of fame in a lifetime. And it’s truer than not. Unfortunately, some of that fame can come in the form of an unflattering video gone viral: that TV interview you did in which you flubbed your comments so badly the audience wanted to sign you up for speech therapy, or the one in which your little-patterned tie looked as though it was crawling with insects, or your earrings jangled so much the host couldn’t hear you, or your mobile phone rang…
Acting Like a Leader On-Camera
My four decades of conducting TV interviews — including many international business leaders while with CNBC in London and Paris — have taught me something about what it takes to be effective on-camera, particularly in a studio interview, and I share some of those pointers here…
1. Credibility is king. Do you own your topic? Know what you’re talking about? Believe it? Can you summarize the topic of the interview in two sentences? The most important elements in effective communications know what you’re talking about and doing so with enthusiasm.
2. You’re the expert. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have been asked to participate in the interview in the first place. Don’t let performance fear undermine your self-confidence. And remember that you know more about the topic than your host.
3. Keep things simple: short sentences, oft-repeated to make your point. Don’t stray or allow yourself to be led away from the topic. “Let’s come back to the real topic” is a good way to get off a sidetrack.
4. There are no ‘take-overs;” the journalist will be looking for a sound bite; the way you craft your answer will give them one YOU want them to use. Example: Q — How do you plan to increase your operating margins next quarter? A — Well, on the operational side we can create efficiencies and on the finance side we can find a better way to use our cash. Better A: We will be increasing our sales staff so we can get out there and sell more because our market research shows there’s still a lot of untapped demand for our services.
5. Slumping undercuts your authority o-camera. Sit up straight, shoulders down and back. And if you’re wearing a jacket, pull it down in the back so you can sit on it; this prevents it from bunching up (and no. It’s not just comic relief from that famous movie about broadcast news some years ago…)
6. Speaking of clothing…stay away from black, white and red. Those colors contrast with your skin and play havoc with studio lighting. Stick with Navy, gray or camel and pastels. Avoid tiny patterns or anything iridescent. Yes, this means shiny patterned ties, too.
7. Be conversational, not confrontational — even if the reporter seems aggressive; this is an interview, not an inquisition.
8. Speak the truth. Especially important in this era of fake news. If you don’t know the answer don’t try to fake it. “I’ll have to look into that,” is acceptable, as is “I’m not I a position to answer that.” And don’t be pushed into speculating by a reporter on a fishing expedition. It’s OK to say, ”I really can’t speculate.”
9. Look at something — preferably the reporter. Don’t look away or down at your feet; this makes you look sneaky. The camera accentuates small moves, so collect yourself.
10. Speak more slowly than feels “normal.” You’d be surprised at how fast you actually speak. Enunciation is important – especially as your audience may not be native English-speakers.
And…something obvious but oft-forgotten: turn off your mobile phone!
Editor’s Note: This Article originally appeared on Forbes and is published here with Author permission.