10 Tips For Conquering The Final Frontier Of Speaking: Television

What To Do (And Not Do) When You Are “On The Air
What To Do (And Not Do) When You Are “On The Air

I think that it was Bruce Springsteen who in his song “57 Channels (and Nothin’ On)” lamented that although he now had access to 500 channels, there really was nothing on that he wanted to watch. Well of course not, you weren’t on TV yet. However, in the very near future this may all change…

Why Being On Television Is So Hard

With the arrival of everything from iPods to iPads that can display video, more and more speakers are finding themselves being asked to come on TV to share their knowledge and opinions. How flattering is that? However, what all too many of us don’t realize is that being on TV is much, much different than standing in front of a live audience and delivering a speech.

For starters, on TV unless you are the President of the United States, nobody wants to listen to you give an entire speech. We’ve all been conditioned to watch TV in small bites that are sandwiched between commercials. This means that no matter how much you may detest politicians who build their reputation based on sound bites, you’re going to have to boil your message down, down, down.

10 Tips For Being On TV

TV is such a different place to speak that we need to reach out and get some professional advice on how to do it well. David Yewman is a media trainer and a presentation coach who has a lot of experience with the world of TV. He’s got a number of suggestions for how accidental communicators can do well when you get your shot at the big time of TV:

  1. Don’t Look There!: On the “little screen”, your eyes are what everyone will be watching. Something that public speakers don’t realize is that your job is to look at the person that you are talking with – never, ever look at the camera. The host CAN look at the camera, but you can’t.
  2. Watch The Plaids!: As you stand in your closet picking out the clothes that you’ll wear, keep this in mind: plaids and checkered patterns are bad, solid colors such as blues and browns are good. Try to stay away from all white shirts.
  3. Posture, Posture: You might think that since you’ll probably be sitting down, you don’t have worry about posture – wrong! Dave suggests that we never let our backs touch the back of the chair – we should be leaning forward by about 20 degrees to clear our breathing tubes and show that we are interested in the discussion. Unless you are Tom Cruise on Oprah, your behind should be firmly planted in your seat and your shoulders should be squared off.
  4. Shut Up And Put The Makeup On: This pretty much goes out to the guys. Sit down and let the TV studio put makeup on you. If you don’t, you’re going to look horrible. The world of TV is unlike the real world – the makeup looks really bad in real life, but it shows up well on TV. Let the pros do what they want to you.
  5. What’s Your Point?: Your time on TV will be very short. You need to have a set of short “points” that you want to get across. When you are asked a question by the host, answer it but see if you can open an opportunity to fit one of your points into your response. Be ready to quickly deliver one of your points if the host asks you for any closing thoughts.
  6. Practice, Practice, Practice: Do I even have to remind you about this one? The world of a TV studio is an amazing environment and you’ll be swept away once you enter it. Make sure that you know what you want to say and how you want to say it before you arrive.
  7. Shh! I’m On TV: The last thing that you want to happen while you are on TV is to become distracted. That means that you’ve got to turn off everything electronic, make sure that your mic works, and that there are no TV screens in your view that are going to draw your attention away from the host.
  8. Show Some Energy: Would you want to watch yourself on TV if you looked tired or as though you didn’t want to be there? No way! So make sure that you’ve got some pep. TV is all about your facial expressions and your body language – make sure that they are telling everyone that you are excited to be there!
  9. Story Time: If there’s one thing that any TV host loves, it’s a guest who comes with great stories. However, your time is limited so you need to keep them as short as possible.
  10. Change Happens: The world of TV is a very dynamic world. Things will change and so you need to be ready to deal with it. You may end up going longer or shorter than was planned. Make sure that you are ready.

What All Of This Means For You

As public speakers our goal is to have an impact on our audiences. The best way to do this is to make sure that our message reaches the largest number of people possible. Being on TV is a great way to make this happen.

The world of a TV studio is much different from the everyday world that we live in. In order to come across well on TV, you need to change how you act and how you communicate so that you work with the world of TV. We’ve shared the tips that you need in order to do this well.

TV, despite what Bruce Springsteen might say about it, is a powerful communication tool. Speakers who can find a way to use this tool will become even more successful!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills

Question For You: How would you go about turning a speech into a set of “talking points” for a TV interview?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Welcome to the real world – things happen. Specially, things happen while you are delivering a speech. Bad things, things that can really screw up your speech. Fire alarms go off, the power fails, a projector bulb quits, your laptop decides to eat itself, etc. What’s a speaker to do?

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