The Executive's Guide to TV and Radio Appearances by Michael Bland
Written back in 1979, Bland has some advice that has been superannuated by better technology (like don't wear pure black or white or pinstripes, "it sends color cameras bananas", page 34). However, he also has a bunch of interviewing advice that seems timeless.
Decide whether or not to do the interview. Ask When? Where? How long?
Decide: Are you available? Do you want to do it?
If you want to do this: Why are they doing the program? Why me? Who is the interviewer? Will it be live or recorded? Any films or props? Who else will be on the program? What questions will they ask?
Prepare -- at least an hour. Say what you want to say, not what they want you to say. Plan the message: 3 points with perhaps 3/4 subpoints. Use anecdotes and analogies. Learn your brief, then you'll always have something to say.
Anticipate their angle. Put yourself in their shoes.
Keep off the defensive. You are going to use their questions to get over your message.
Be your presentable self.
Avoid narrow stripes and checks.
Avoid flashing jewelry, etc.
Never wear black and white.
Check at the last moment for stray hair, etc.
(1) Look Alert.
It's terribly tempting to try to relax in a studio chair. Ths can make you look to contented -- if not a complete slob. It's especially true if the opening gambit is an attack kon you; the camera catches you sitting back, smiling smugly, and the viewer already wants to see the interviewer wipe that silly smile off your face.
(2) Any Surprises
Remember back in teh preparation you ask if they were showing an film? If they are using film you should insist on seeing it first. The same applies to surprise studio guests and any other gimmicks.
(3) Shout "Unfair!"
If they say it's impossible, or say there's no film and then spring it on you anyway, you must let the viewer know right away that you haven't seen the bit of film which he's just seen.
Sometimes they will even show film without your being able to see it on a studio monitor during the interview, in which case you must be doubly sure to let the viewer know all about this mean trick.
If your interview was recorded, and they then use the film to your disadvantage, it's time to complain. (More on that soon.)
(4) Don't Let The Interviewer Butt In
In normal conversation we tend to stop wehn someone butts in. On television the reverse applies. You hold the whip hand, because there's nothing they hate more in the studio than two people talking at once.
If the interviewer cuts in before you've finished, raise your voice -- slightly but firmly -- and finish what you were saying. He'll have to shut up or ruin the interview.
However, don't confuse making your point with vague talk. Always finish the point you were making and then shut up. Never go muttering on for more than 15 seconds at a time.
(5) Refute Incorrect Statements
What kind of a question is that? Here (in the prefaced mock interview) Hanger is using the oldest trick in the book -- a derogatory statement followed by a different question. It's a favorite trick, so be on your guard for it. If the interviewer makes any statement that you don't like, jump in and put the record straight immediately. Then answer the question.
(6) No Names
It's a small point, but don't forget that you're not talking to the interviewer - you're talking to the viewer (even if you're always looking at the interviewer like you should be). If you address him by name it removes you one stage from the person with whom you want to communicate.
Be especially careful of first names. They can make the interview sound a bit contrived or 'pally'.
(7) No Jargon
That spiel about the 14.7:1 ratio (in the mock interview) may look ludicrous, but it happens all the time. People are so used to the gobbledygook of their everyday jobs that they forget the viewer can't understand a word of it.
Remember instead the advice in the briefing chapter about using simple analogies.
(8) Don't Defend
Somehow on television it's as bad as an admission of guilt. He used the word 'torture': now you've used the same word again, which is just what he wanted.
Either got straight into your (alread prepared) point about the benefits of battery breeding (don't ask) or, if you have to reiterate his loaded question, use it as a launching pad for a counter-attack.
(9) There Is Only One Viewer
He is an individual. He is 'one' or the 'audience' or the 'viewer'. You are speaking to him through the interviewer and it shouldn't be necessary to refer to him as anyone in particular -- not even as 'you' (except in straight-to-camera talk).
(10) Don't Let Them Misinterpret
Another popular trick is to paraphrase your message for you. It's often done with good intentions to achieve simplicity, and young Hanger has just put it better than you, then so much the better.
But if it's done to your detriment, put it straight at once.
It's human nature to with a "Well..." It doesn't do any harm in small doses, but (each time you do it, you lose impact).
(12) The Calculated Pause
It's like when you put your foot in it at a party... You ask some lady how her husband is these days, and remember as you speak that he died last month. So you quickly burble some other nonsense to cover up and realize you're saying something worse.
The interviewer loves it. He loves it so much, in fact, that he won't always wait for you to say something stupid in the first place. He'll create a pregnant silence for you to fill -- like your own grave. Watch for yourself how often a subject on television goes on talking because he feels he has to.
... Say what you want to say ... then shut up. The interviewer is only too conscious that if his interview is filled with long pauses he'll be chewed out by the producer for a boring piece. The onus is on him to keep things flowing.
(13) Er, Um
It's worth some practice in everyday speech. The more you 'um' and 'er' and 'ah', the less certain you sound of your facts.
(14) And So On And So Forth And The Like
Meaningless. List your items and quit while you're ahead.
(15) He Who Hesitates Is Toast
This may sound contradictory having just encouraged you to shut up in certain circumstances, and having talked earlier about ploys like cleaning your spectacles and blowing your nose to gain thinking time. But the crucial thing is not to let the viewer know that you're frantically thinking up the right answer! Stall intelligently if you have to, or launch straight into your response.
Incidentally, quite a good breathing-space technique is to ask the interviewer to repeat the question (though not for simple questions).
(16) Don't Be Sidetracked
Interviewers are always looking for a dark alley-way with a corpse at the end of it. (This is one reason for not relying too much on prepared questions and answers.)
A good interviewer can sniff trouble a mile away at the end of a sidetrack. If you give him half a chance he'll be off down it like a frustrated ferret -- so it's your job to keep him on main street.
(17) Know Your Ground.
It should go without saying.
(18) Stay Cool
Never lose your temper. If you ever became really adept at being interviewed you might pretend to show great anger and indignation at the right moment, but that's outside the range of this simple book.
(19) Don't Volunteer Things
We do it all the time in conversation -- it's another of those crazy defence mechanisms. On the air it's as good as a confession of guilt.
(20) The Last Word
See for yourself how often it happens. Under the guise of 'winding up', the interviewer delivers the coup-de-grace while you sit there open-mouthed and the clock ticks to zero.
In a live interview, however, you again hold the whip hand if he slips in a derogatory remark, because you can utterly ruin his summary by shouting out and getting your case in last.
But you have to be damned quick. Come out with something like: "That isn't true. I've already told you that ...", so that they cut the interview with you reiterating one of your key points.