Best Practices for Nailing Your Next Live Interview
From TV to radio to webcasts, nailing live interviews requires preparation. Whether you’re a seasoned interviewee or a public speaking novice, presenting yourself live on-air takes practice. There are many factors to be considered such as how to address hard-hitting questions, how to dress, how to make your interview memorable, and so much more – so it can be easy to let yourself succumb to pre-interview jitters.
When this worry strikes, it’s important to keep in mind that you are being interviewed because you have expertise to share – and that a successful live interview can build credibility, reputation, and cement your status as a thought leader in your industry. However, in order to achieve all of those things you first will need to prepare and follow some interview etiquette guidelines. We have included below tips and best practices that will leave you well-equipped for your next live appearance and set you up for success beyond.
People DO judge books by their covers. So make sure you present yourself well.
Snap judgements come with the territory of live-interviews. When you are being presented in real time on air, viewers developing their own perception of you is unavoidable. However, the opinion they come to is controllable. To avoid the potential risk of being viewed in a negative light and present yourself in the best way possible there are a few factors to consider.
Present Positive Body Language
Body language more than anything else can convey to an audience whether or not you are someone they should trust. Crossed arms tells the audience you are standoffish, while a slumped posture can say you’re not confident in what you are saying. Your body language should be an indicator of your expertise, conveying that you are engaged and ready to answer your interviewer’s questions.
Maintain Eye-Contact With the Interviewer
During in-person interviews, be sure to maintain eye-contact with your interviewer–not the camera. Similar to having positive body language, where you look during a live-interview can tell the audience where your interest lies. If you’re live-streaming during your interview, don’t look beyond your computer and be sure to not get distracted by any notifications that may pop up on your screen. Maintaining eye-contact lets your interviewer know that you are fully invested and engagedt in the interview.
Dress to Impress
There are many ways to exude leadership and confidence in an interview, as shown above. But beyond body language and eye contact, another key aspect is how you decide to appear. Being chosen to speak on behalf of an organization means that they consider you an expert, so it is essential to dress the part. This can mean different things for different people but what it boils down to is wearing something that compliments you and that you feel comfortable in. For live interviews it can also help to not wear busy patterns seeing as it won’t translate well on camera and can distract from the interview. Instead stick with simple, solid colors.
Your Backdrop Should Be Minimal
In the age of Zoom, we have gotten used to using the blur effect on our backgrounds and taking calls from wherever we please. While this is fine for daily internal meetings, backdrop should be more of a consideration when it comes to interviews. Make sure the area you’re in has been cleaned to prevent any distractions for the audience and the interviewer. It may also be beneficial to use a branded company background.
All in Real-Time: Live Interviews Mean No Take Backs and No Redos
While you go into podcast interviews knowing an editor will be combing through the footage before it goes live or interviews for print articles knowing the reporter will choose the best soundbite to quote you on, live interviews are a completely different beast. The training wheels are taken off and everything you say is captured on camera, in real-time. With no extra padding to fall on, it’s important to follow these guidelines.
Be Clear and Concise
Live interviews are done in one-take and interviewees are only allotted a certain amount of time to get their point across. In order to make the most of your time, it’s important to avoid rambling and instead lead your interviewer down a path that allows you to reach your point naturally. A good way to ensure this happens is to prepare talking points prior to your interview. This preparation can range anywhere from topics you feel are necessary to bring up to a word for word script you will follow.
Your Tone of Voice Matters
It’s not just about what you say, but how you say it. When it comes to any interview, you want to come off as assertive and articulate to your audience. Whether you find a question endearing or irrelevant, treat each one with the same amount of enthusiasm. If you stay engaged and high energy throughout the interview, the audience will as well.
Go With the Flow
An interview should act more like a conversation than a stiff, predetermined question and answer. Every question should be met with a thoughtful answer, and yes or no responses should be avoided. When you only give short answers, you miss out on the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise. If you aren’t sure if you are equipped to answer a question beyond a yes or no answer, sharing your opinion is still fair game. The most important thing is to keep the conversation flowing and keeping the interview as natural as possible.
Practice Answering Potential Interview Questions
If you’re able to get your hands on the questions your interviewer will ask, take advantage of having them by preparing answers and practicing what you would like to say. If questions aren’t shared, put yourself into the mind of the reporter and prepare for questions that you believe are likely to be asked. In both scenarios make sure your answers encompass the message you would like to get across
Fake it ‘Till You Make It
Your interviewer may throw you a curveball question–resist from saying “I don’t know” or “I’m not an expert.” Always give each question a response even if you’re unsure about your credibility to answer it. Expressing uncertainty about a topic will make your audience feel uncertain about you. Instead, take a moment to consider what you would like to say and answer to the best of your abilities. Try to avoid filler words like “um and “hmmm.”
The Bottom Line
On-air interviews are challenging and can be unpredictable since you don’t know what is going to happen until you’re in the moment. You’re not expected to be a media expert, but you should take preparations to become one as you grow as a leader representing an organization. Take advantage of being on a live interview, and use it to your advantage by sharing your goals and mission. Remember, there’s a reason you were chosen to be interviewed, so let your knowledge and expertise shine through.