It's too late to diet… interview tips for TV

I was interviewed on the lauch of my first novel. It felt very strange to be the subject, not the interviewer


So – the local TV station wants to come and interview you. But rumour has it, a TV camera adds ten pounds…

Is it really too late for a crash diet?

In this third and final instalment of my media workshop, we’re going to be talking about doing TV interviews.

The first thing to remember about television is the vision bit.  They will want pictures – moving pictures – to go with the story. This ‘overlay’ video will be used in those parts of the finished piece where the reporter’s voice is telling the story.

As a last resort (and you will see this sometimes) they will shoot video of you and the reporter walking along a lane, talking. They’ll need maybe 45 – 50 seconds of overlay to make their story – and two people walking and talking is pretty hard to stretch to that length.

So give them something to shoot.

Think about the book you are promoting. If it’s historical, ask the TV crew to meet you at the ruined castle that inspired the book. Or join you in the grounds of the manor house where your hero lives (make sure you get permission from the owners).

If the local pony club helped you research your book, get them involved in the story. Kids and ponies make great TV. Think about any way to make the interview more visual.

And speaking of visual – there is the vexing question of what to wear.

Yes - that is me back in my reporter days.

You know that shiny brilliant orange silk shirt you love so much …. leave it in the cupboard. I had one such shirt and was banned from wearing it to work in a TV newsroom – just because I was sometimes in the background of a shot. Shiny bright colours look terrible on TV. So do small checks and stripes. Subdued prints are fine – but there is a reason most female news presenters wear solid colours. They just look better. You might want to avoid white, although cream looks good. A solid colour with a small highlight – a scarf or a brooch – is fine too.

The TV crew may want you to wear a microphone – so a jacket or a top which provides a suitable place to clip on a mic is a plus.

Whatever you wear, make sure you feel comfortable in it. And also think about the ‘shot’. If you are going to be sitting on a sofa… with the camera at a low angle, don’t wear the shortest skirt in your wardrobe. You’ll spend half the interview pulling it down, and the other half wondering if you are …. Well, you get the idea.

As for as make-up, if you go to a studio for a long interview on say, a morning chat show, they will have someone to do your makeup. If the interview is coming to you – you are on your own. Don’t experiment. Wear whatever makeup you would normally wear – and don’t overdo it. Remember Barbara Cartland in her latter years.

And yes – the camera does give you a few extra pounds.  Maybe not ten… but there is a reason most TV presenters are slim. How to deal with it? Simple. Live with it. There’s nothing you can do about it. And don’t worry – you won’t look as bad as you think. We all hate looking at ourselves on TV.

What you can do is ask a friend to help you practice. Almost any phone or still camera will shoot video. Stand in front of one and answer imaginary questions. Then play it back. Get you friend – your good friend – to watch it with you and make sure they will be honest with you in looking for ways to improve your on camera presence.

You won’t be as bad as you think.

You might even discover the camera loves you…