You made it. You’re on TV. Time to take full advantage of this opportunity. Don’t screw it up, because you may not live it down, and you may not get another chance anytime soon. To help you know what to do and, more importantly, what NOT to do, here are five ways to look right on television.
1 – Make it your top priority
Okay, that invite is in your inbox. You are over the moon excited. But you also have bills to pay. Maybe you have kids and a social life and other things that matter to you. Just understand, a good showing on this program could be great for ALL of those people and things you love. And, if you lay an egg, it could reflect poorly on all of that. So, make sure you are fully prepared. You need to look the part, know your stuff, and be ready for anything.
2 – Know what to say and how to say it
On TV, clear and short is always better than thorough and long winded. You will not get your point across, and audiences will not hear you if you drone on. Practice getting your ideas and points into quick, quippy sound bites. Easy to remember – and repeat – chunks that deliver on the topic without boring the audience. Don’t know how to do that? Sign up for an improv class. Watch the experts and learn their techniques. Just get it down.
3 – Stay on point
TV hates rabbit trails. Don’t over-explain and don’t meander off down rabbit trails of similar, more or less related, topics. Whether you are talking about your brand, your product or you have been invited on to explain something in your expert wheelhouse, you are there to provide something for the audience to understand. You also want to engage and entertain them. Even if it’s about you, it’s not all about you.
4 – Stay on message
Yes, it sounds the same as #3. But it’s also different. This is because the host and, likely, any other guests, will not share your agenda. They will try to get you off track. They will ask gotcha questions and try to pin something on you. You have a message. Stay on message … no matter what happens. Nothing is more important to your TV appearance than the take away the audience has.
Speaking of takeaway…
5 – Keep your cool
You do not want to have a meltdown on live TV. You. Do. Not. Call it “couch jumping” or “Dean Screaming” or whatever you want, but a meltdown on live TV will live on the Internet forever. You may be able to get past it, but it will never go away. No matter what they say, just keep your cool and remember to stay on message.
Bonus tip 1: If you’re wearing a mic, assume it’s hot.
Bonus tip 2: I don’t really have to tell you to dress appropriately and show up on time, do I? But maybe I need to define “late” and “appropriate.” If you’re on time, you’re late. Be there at least an hour early. Yes. An hour. There is no room for “traffic delays” on live TV. Take a look at how other people in your position dress. What will you look like if they put you up against an antagonist?
Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States.