June 20, 2011

Tips for Taped Television Interviews

Mom and I are very excited, but terrified, about our first television interview airing on O2 Media's morning talk show "The Balancing Act" on Lifetime Television tomorrow, June 21st, at 7am (ET/PT). Note: 6am Central/Mountain. This is our teaser (will become the show once it airs. And, yes, this is the first time I've ever used an embed code on my blog):

When they first called and asked to interview us, I was terrified. My breathing slowed once I found out it was not live television. Okay, we could do this. One month before the interview we sent in five copies of our book (staff and hosts were all required to read it). Two weeks before, we sent in a synopsis, the main points we wanted to cover, and some images. One week before, we received five questions. Easy, right?

Mom and I had insane weeks leading up to our trip to Florida to tape. We decided to arrive a day early and do a marathon training session. All day Saturday we wrote and rewrote our answers. We had a four minute slot for our interview. There were five questions. We figured the host wouldn't get to all of them, but we wanted to be prepared just in case. We also knew we could do more than one take. Breathe, we constantly told ourselves.

We showed up to the studio prepared. We rehearsed our answers the entire car ride over. Unshakable. Then we met the host. Lovely. She was encouraging, friendly, and above all, made us feel comfortable. "We are just three ladies sitting down to chat," she told us. We had makeup done, microphones put on, and were placed on set. At this point, there was no amount of prescription antiperspirant strong enough for me.

We did the first take in question order until time was called. We survived. No flubs. The crew asked us how many television interviews we had done. Sure, sure, I thought to myself, they are just trying to make us feel better. The host asked us which questions we really wanted to fit in now that we had a sense of the time. We rearranged. Second take and done. Success! I felt even better when we saw the next person tape. After three takes, she left the set momentarily to compose herself.

In May, we posted a humorous what not to do during a television appearance list. Now, we want to give some practical advice.

Tips for a Taped Television Appearance:

1. Rehearse your answers. If they don't give you a list of questions, ask or offer some of your own. The host appreciated our preparation, and it never hurts to have the host in your corner. Several staff and crew thanked us for our professionalism. Another benefit, rehearsing made us more confident and less nervous.

2. Engage your host. Take our host's advice, you are sitting down to chat. If you aren't talking, look interested in what the host (or the co-interviewee) is saying. Nod and smile. The effort it took to keep a pageant-smile on my face made me focus less on the butterflies in my stomach.

3. It's okay to breathe. I kept worrying I'd forget our scripted answers. Mom reminded me it was okay to take a breath and gather your thoughts. Better to breathe than rush through and crash.

4. Follow directions. There are reasons they ask you to nod and smile while looking to your left. Just do it, no matter how silly it seems. It's their job to make you look good, so they look good. Another important one: they will often give you suggested clothing colors and a list of don'ts. Pay attention. I watched the show for weeks before we taped, and I saw some poor choices.

5. Trust the Team. See #4. Trust the producer, host, and crew. And don't forget the makeup person.  He or she knows television makeup. No matter how much you like to do your own makeup, those lights are different. If you have sensitive skin, bring your products and then trust him/her.

6. Send a thank you note. As soon as I got home, I sent a follow-up email to the producers, the host, and anyone else who helped along the way. I then followed up with written thank you notes. They've already been in contact with us about future dealings, and asked me to forward a thank you note on letterhead to put up in their main lobby.

7. Sell yourself. People will buy your product or service if they buy you as a person. It's four minutes. Be your best self.

Having said all this, we haven't seen our appearance. We will see it tomorrow along with everyone else. It's easy to ask yourself if you should have done three takes, worn something different, smiled bigger. But, in the end, I trusted my team.

We'd love some feedback. If you can't watch in the morning, please set your DVRs or come back and view the link. Then leave some comments below. We can take it!


Kate @ Teaching What Is Good said...

GREAT tips, Tia!! I am so looking forward to seeing this interview!!

Tia Bach said...

Thanks, Kate. Can't wait to hear what you think. I'm so nervous to watch!

Jan said...

Oh Tia,
What a fabulous ideas and wow! how exciting for you! Sorry for the excitement but I'm so thrilled for you. Got your book - looking forward to reading it.

I haven't even watched the teaser yet - but I'm so envious. Way to go!

Jan said...

Okay, I have to comment again - because I just watched the entire segment! You two were easy going, well-spoken and friendly. Nice, nice, nice.

Tia Bach said...

Jan, Thanks for your kind words and support. I thought it turned out well. We only did two takes, but they cut and spliced them together so well. Plus, my kids got up and we all watched it together. Seeing their faces watching their Mom and Nana on TV was priceless!

Cari said...

I am very impressed with the interview. Your answers were well thought out and executed perfectly. It flowed very well between the two of you answering different questions. I can't think of any criticism at all. Great job!

Tia Bach said...


Thanks for watching and commenting. We were so happy with how it turned out (they cut and pasted from two takes and made us look good!).

Thanks for stopping by our blog!

Anonymous said...

Such a fabulous job. You both looked like complete naturals. REALLY. And it seemed like you were having fun :). Congratulations!

Tia Bach said...

Thanks, Liz. I would have been a wreck if I hadn't been there with Mom. We were laughing heading to the couch for the first take!

Alison Law said...

Take it from a former TV producer, you did a WONDERFUL job. The biggest mistake that people make during television interviews is not taking a second to pause and thoughtfully answer the question. Your tip #2 is so important also. Really listen and rely on that person to guide you through the interview. Look at them, not the camera! You do have to be careful that you don't over-rehearse, so that it sounds like the whole thing is completely canned. The audience can see through that. Congrats to you and your mom, Tia.

Tia Bach said...

Alison, I agree. I was worried we were rehearsing too much, so we did take a breather and get a nice dinner out. Once we were at the studio, we stopped. Thanks for the compliments. We learned so much from this experience.