MARKETING MATTERS: From the Stage to the Screen, Tips for Talking on the Telly

Kathleen Y'Barbo

Blogger:  Kathleen Y’Barbo

Location:  The Woodlands PR Office

Weather:  Finally fall in Texas! 50’s – Brr!

For those of you who are just beginning to brave the spotlight and do public speaking, bravo! To make the most of your speaking engagements, consider combining them with other appearances. Often the contact person for the event will offer to set up book signings and interviews. As with public speaking, mastering the art of the interview is best done by starting with the basics. Next week I will talk about radio interviews. Today, however, I’d like to talk a little about television appearances.

1.  Watch what you wear. White is not your friend, nor is plaid or stripes. Stick to solids in brown, blue, or gray tones. Ladies, leave your clanking bracelets and sparkling, oversized earrings at home. When in doubt, think conservative. You want viewers to focus on your message.

2.  Ladies should apply makeup with a slightly heavier hand than normal. Remember the lights can wash out your skin, so add just a touch more to your lips, eyes, and cheeks than normal.

3. Sit up straight. Hunching over, leaning forward, or fidgeting are distracting. Some speakers I know bring a small travel pillow to place in the small of their backs while seated.

4.  Speak when spoken to. Listen to the question. Consider the answer for a moment. Only then should you speak. And answer only the question you’ve been asked. Resist the temptation to fill empty air time by continuing to talk. Avoid repeatedly mentioning your book. Indeed, publicity is why you’re there, but allow the interviewer to be the one who does the bragging. And whatever you do, do not interrupt.

5. Relax. As I type this, I’m smiling. Unless you’re a seasoned pro, all the lights, cameras, and technical gear may seem intimidating. Take a deep breath. Say a prayer. Be confident. You can do this!

These are just a few of the tips I’ve learned. Now tell me about your on-camera successes and, for grins, a few oops moments as well.

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  1. This is good advice, Kathleen. I would also suggest that men wear… uhhh… I don’t even know what it’s called, but it’s that stuff in a little “compact” you spread on your face with a pad, so you don’t glisten. The bright lights will make you look extra sweaty when you’re on camera. No need to overdo it, but do go from your hairline (wherever it may be) all the way to your neck. If you sweat, they’ll never know.

  2. Great, straight-forward, helpful points. Thank you, Kathleen. 🙂

  3. Eva Ulian says:

    I was on Italian TV a few years back discussing why I had left the Novitiate, at a certain point my mind went completely blank, and I just looked at the Journalist, Rita dalla Chiesa, (the General’s daughter killed by the Mafia in the 80s) and said I had lost the thread. Rita smiled, summarized the last sentence I had said and off I went again. Well, at least she was listening, just imagine if she wasn’t.