By: Cayci Banks, Director of Communications
While some people run from a camera, it’s always been in my nature to run towards them...just ask my friends and family. I will be the first person to find the videographer at a wedding, was interviewed by the Today Show team when in NYC on my senior trip (smacking gum in my cap and gown, of course), was the shining star of most of my older brother’s music videos in the 80s (let’s hope those tapes never make it to social media), and always enjoy the opportunity to talk about the nonprofits I have the privilege of working alongside.
This passion I developed at a young age has been a huge part of my career. I spend a great deal of time training nonprofit professionals, CEOs, and future coaches and athletic directors for their “close up.” We talk about the importance of media relations, how to prepare for media interviews, what NOT to do, and how to keep their brand in tact…before and after an on-camera appearance.
If you ever find yourself preparing for an on-camera interview, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Preparation is Key. You should never go on camera without fully understanding the context of the interview, who the interviewer is, what the questions may be, and when the interview will air. Once you have a basic understanding of the interview itself, and 100% believe you are the best person for the interview, now you prepare what you will say. Write down (yes, write them down) 3-5 talking points that you want to get across during your interview. Practice these talking points, over and over again, until you are confident that you can relay these messages to the interviewer without getting flustered. Do you have a colleague or family member who can interview you? Even better. But if no one is around to help you out, just find the closest mirror and interview yourself. You will be surprised at how much you can learn from watching yourself in the mirror.
Calm Your Nerves. If you are like 99% of your peers, you are going to get nervous going on camera. It’s just human nature. You feel like the situation is out of your control, that the media personality is “out to get you,” and thus put up walls, and for whatever reason, lose all confidence in yourself and your ability to speak. Well, first of all, they aren’t “out to get you;” more often than not, they really just want to help us tell our stories and share important information with their viewers. Look at reporters as allies.
So, what do we do about those nerves? One of my longtime colleagues gave me the best piece of advice years ago when I was going live on a local channel. He said, “You know more about the topic than anyone else in the room. You are the expert; now show them why you’re the person they called.” Profound, right? No, it’s such a simple thought, but so true! I did know more than anyone else in the room. Nine times out of 10, the reporter is going to love you more if you help guide the conversation. That’s why the talking points in #1 were so important. Know what you want to say, have confidence in yourself, and make the public believe in your expert status.
Appearance Matters. It will be hard for someone to listen to your words if you have already lost credibility due to your appearance or body language. It’s important to dress the part; whatever that means for your industry. Some will need to wear a suit and tie, but that’s not the rule for all of us. The coaches I work with would look silly getting dressed up for an interview. The attire should match the tone of the interview and the topic you are addressing.
Along the same lines, the way you portray yourself on screen is close to, if not just as, important as the words you are saying. Sit or stand with confidence. Don’t slouch, don’t cross your arms, don’t turn away from the interviewer. All of these movements have unintentional meanings, such as disinterest and lack of respect. Make sure you aren’t taking anything away from the words you are speaking. Don’t distract the viewer with needless hand gestures, flashy jewelry, or negative body language so that it makes it hard for them to focus on anything else.
And as my mom told me after returning from New York City as a naïve, 17-year-old, NEVER CHEW GUM on camera!
Could your C-suite or board room benefit from media training? If so, contact our team at 1000 Feathers to schedule an in-person or virtual meeting.