How to look good on television

by Adrian Dayton
Contact

Originally posted in The National Law Journal on March 14, 2013

“In the future, everybody will be world-famous for 15 minutes,” Andy Warhol said. Let’s say your time has arrived—your social media messaging has caught the attention of an old-media platform and you have the chance to be interviewed on national TV. Will you be ready? How should you prepare to make a great first impression? How will you make the most of your 15 minutes of fame?

staley_joelI asked this question of Joel Staley, who has worked with celebrities, senior executives and brand representatives for Fortune 500 companies.

“Lawyers know how to do their homework” when preparing for a deposition or researching a brief, Staley said. “They need to take that same preparation when getting ready for the media. Don’t turn off your research and inquisitive approach, because you are going to need it. Keep that mindset.”

Your first question should be: Who is the reporter? “What is their interview style? Watch them online. Read them. Get a sense of their style. Are they a Diane Sawyer, who is so sweet and pretty then throws darts—these barbed questions that leave you looking like a deer in the headlights? Or are they like Ed Bradley, the machine gunner who relentlessly attacks people with questions? This tends to make a person look flustered and inarticulate. Inarticulate can make you look guilty.”

Staley advises interviewees to research how the reporter has handled the subject matter before. “You could be sucked into a story where the interviewer already has a bias. Be aware of what their slant is before you talk to them.” 

You’ll need to map out what your posture should be. “The key to success is to know your story,” Staley said. “This is not a time for improvisation; this is not a time for creativity. Know the key points that you need to insert into the story.”

Take a lesson from the presidential debates. The candidates typically take unfriendly questions and flip them around to make themselves look good. “It’s called re-framing,” Staley said. “You don’t have to answer the questions as it is given to you.” If asked, for example, “When did you stop beating your wife?” you reply: “I think what you’re asking is, what kind of a relationship do I have with my wife. In all honesty, it has never been better. We have a loving and close relationship, and I am lucky to have that kind of woman in my life.”

Avoid long-winded answers. “Make sure the first thing out of your mouth is what you want to be on air,” Staley said. “That short answer that is off-the-cuff is going to end up in the program.” This is no place for sarcasm. “They can only broadcast what you give them, so don’t give them distracting information or the key message will be lost.

What are a few simple things to keep people from looking unprepared?

“Arrive early for the interview—you don’t want to be rushed,” Staley said. Show up 10 to 15 minutes early, sit calmly in the studio and review your key messages. Gather your thoughts—you don’t want to be rushed. Turn your cell phone off—consider leaving it in the car—you don’t want to be interrupted.”

Dress conservatively so as not to distract from your message. Avoid tight patterns and stripes—”they don’t read well on the screen.”

rubio_marcoLately, Twitter and Facebook have made great sport of an image of Marco Rubio lunging for a bottle of water during his rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union speech. How could he have avoided that?

“Get a piece of hard candy and suck on it so your salivary glands can get primed,” Staley suggested. Personally, I have found that eating an apple or some citrus before a talk can be a big help. You just don’t want a small detail like that to become a distraction.

Staley recalled an interview in which Bill Clinton wore calf-length socks. “I don’t remember what he said, because I remember when he crossed his legs you saw his white Pirates of the Caribbean legs. Wear the socks that go all the way to your knees in a talk show interview. Also, pull the bottom of your coat under you so that your jacket doesn’t bunch. Avoid bright white shirts—generally, light blue will make things easier on the cameraman and won’t be as distracting from you or your message.”

One last thing: “As you arrive in the studio, the moment you step out of the car you need to step into character,” Staley said. “There have been so many gaffes when interviewees didn’t know the mike was on. Stay in character from when you leave the car until you are back in your car again.” This goes for any pre- or post-interview chit-chat with your host.

You may only have 15 minutes of fame in this life. So make sure, when the lights come on and the camera is rolling, you are ready for prime time.

Written by:

Adrian Dayton
Contact
more
less

ClearView Social on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.