Navigating the On-Camera Interview

Navigating the On-Camera Interview 150 150 Laura Sicola

You’ve been invited to be interviewed on camera for TV, a video podcast or other virtual event. Does the voice inside your head say:

A: “Woohoo, this is a great chance to get some major publicity, I can’t wait!”

B: “I think I’m going to throw up.”

Most people get nervous when being interviewed, and even more people get nervous at the idea of being on camera. Put the two together and you have a combo that makes the fight-or-flight reflex kick into overdrive.

Aside from checking to make sure there’s no spinach between your teeth, you need to have a strategy to get the result you want. Check out this quick video for some proactive measures you can take in advance to direct the interview where YOU want it to go.

On the one hand, there are all of the delivery details I’ve discussed in other videos in this series like body language, voice, and how to calm your nerves when on camera.

But for interviews, it’s all about having a game plan.

Creating Your Interview Game Plan

First, who is conducting the interview, and what is their agenda? Do they showcase leaders whose story will serve as an inspiration for others? Or are they more likely to try to shoot holes in your theory?

There’s a huge difference between being a guest on a weekday morning television talk show and an evening television news program. The daytime interviews tend to be friendly and just want an interesting story that their listeners will enjoy. Evening news programs are more interested in getting “the scoop.” They enjoy conflict and putting people on the spot, particularly if you espouse a principle that their following tends to disagree with economically or politically.

Knowing what their intention is in advance can help you determine your own goal.

• Do you want people to pull out their smartphones and order your product or sign a petition right then and there?
• Do you want to educate more people about a growing problem – and solutions?
• Do you need to debunk some myths?

Depending on your desired outcome, you will decide in advance what stories to tell, what evidence to share, and how explicitly or implicitly you want to invite others to act.

If the interviewer is more likely to play a little hardball and ask a few tough questions, prepare your answers in advance. At this point in your career, you know what objections and challenges people tend to raise, so be prepared with how you want to respond.

Most importantly, remember that an interview is a conversation.
• DON’T just go on a monologue of statistics.

• DO take a conversational approach

• DO engage the interviewer by using his or her name once in a while, and

• DO give short, clear answers to allow the interviewer to volley back and forth with you without having to cut you off to get a word in edgewise.

Of course, that’s only half the battle.

It’s Not (Just) What You Say…

Once you have a sense of what information you want to share, you need to practice how you say it. I strongly recommend writing down a few questions – tough ones and lob balls – and practice answering them, but video record yourself while you do it!

The recording serves several purposes. First it lets you see how you look when you’re answering it. Are you squirming or poised? Do you smile at appropriate times, laugh nervously, or never even crack a smile?

Second, it lets you see how you sound when answering the questions. When you listen to the recording, you’ll realize when you’re rambling, when you’ve left out an important detail, or when you’ve given a great, laser-focused answer. Do you say “Actually” in every sentence (what I call the educated person’s “um”), stutter your way through an answer when you aren’t sure what to say, or mumble so quietly that you have to turn the volume all the way up on your ear buds to even hear what you’re saying?

Ideally, you should record your practice several times until you have figured out what information you want to include or leave out, and can answer the easy AND the hard questions smoothly and confidently.

When you are a good conversationalist with engaging examples and confident delivery, that’s when the wider audience will give you points for acing the interview and taking home the win.