Tips for Live Interviews (pt 2) ~ Kathy Willis, Publicist

To continue our discussion about being an effective interview guest, here are more helpful tips for you whether you’re on television, radio, or being interviewed for print and Internet publications.

· Use humor (but only sparingly). Improvisational humor is better than canned jokes.

· Smile—Have Fun. Being prepared, relaxed, and confident helps a lot.

· Focus on the host and not the camera (or crew).

· Tell brief stories to make your points instead of rattling of statistics.

· Know what you want to say, practice it, and then say it when the camera’s rolling.

· Think in terms of 8-second sound bites. Have about 5 points to make and learn how to integrate them into the interview no matter the questions.

· Forget that youʼre talking to millions of people. Just speak to the interviewer naturally—in your normal tone and volume—as if he is a good friend.

· Stay calm. A TV studio is a hectic place, whether itʼs a local news station or The Today Show. Donʼt panic if the staff seems stressed and disorganized; thatʼs just life in television. Ignore the hubbub and take control.

· Stay on track.

· Be yourself. Try to relax and speak to the reporter in conversational language. Avoid using “buzzwords” specific to your industry or organization that the reporter or the audience will be unfamiliar with; they will likely not make it into the story.

· Over-think your responses or they will sound canned.

· Repeat the question, because it comes across as giving yourself time to fabricate the answer. So, reword the question only as a last resort to buy time to think of the right answer.

· Take notes with you except to review briefly before the show.

· Answer questions that are either irrelevant to you or for which you do not know the answer.

· Argue with a reporter, especially when you are on-camera.

· Feel that you should fill empty space after you’ve given a response. If you are not prepared to elaborate—donʼt. Sometimes interviewers use the pregnant pause, hoping you will panic and blurt out something to fill the quiet space. Just sit there and smile and wait for the next question after you believe youʼve sufficiently answered the question. If the pause is awkward, then if all else fails, offer to fill it with an anecdote rather than a fact you arenʼt sure of.

· Whether youʼre on TV to promote yourself or something else, youʼre there to convey a specific message. When itʼs your turn to speak, make sure you get your point across.

· Avoid being sidetracked into a subject not directly related to the subject of the interview. Also avoid rabbit tracking.

· Watch the pace of your reply. Talk too fast and it will appear you think you have more material than time and youʼre trying to cram it all in. Too laid back and you donʼt appear passionate about the subject.

· Beware of being monotone. Allow your voice to naturally rise and fall in pitch, volume and tone.

· Enunciate. Thereʼs nothing worse than an audience misunderstanding because you didnʼt properly enunciate a word or phrase.

· Beware of the “s” and “p” sounds because they tend to hiss and pop with certain mics.

· Make sure you know which time zone you are scheduled for any phone call interviews.

· Be clear in advance if they are to call you or if you are to call them, and have phone numbers for both parties (the guest and the host), just in case.

· Set up your phone so you don’t get call waiting, which can interrupt the interview and create a silent pause each time it rings.

· Use a landline if at all possible for phone interviews, to cut down on risk for cell phone static interference and disconnects.

· Send an interview sheet in advance, but be prepared for other questions aswell.

· On the interview sheet, also put your bio, and your photo. Even if theyreceived your press release, it might not be in front of them. This will help the host know not only know what questions to ask, but also feel like they are connecting with you since they see your face on the sheet.

· Don’t forget to ask permission to get an mp3, CD or DVD of the interview, to use for promotional purposes after the show. See if you are allowed to post it to your site. Some prefer you to link to their online archives and others will give you full permission to use as you wish.

· Have talking points, but don’t be obvious about your talking points–youwant to come across as an expert on the topic or someone passionate about the topic, rather than a politician.

· The same goes for mentioning your book–you want to mention it, but limityour phrases of, “Well, in the book…” “When you read the book, you’llfind…” And the worst is, “I’m not going to answer that question. You’ll haveto get the book to find out!”

The final word on interview guesting is this: if your main goal is to sell books, you will come off sounding like an infomercial. But if your main goal is to connect your message to the audience, then God is going to use you in a might way. He’s all about making sure your motives are pure. And the great thing is, when your motive is to shine HIS Light, He takes care of those other loaves-and-fishes sorts of needs in your life, such as selling books and getting exposure.

Kathy Carlton Willis own her own communications firm and enjoys shining the light on others as they shine THE Light. She’s also wife to Russ, mom to fur babies, family and friend to many, and pastor’s wife to her church family. Find her on all the social networking sites, as well as her professional blog:

Write Kathy at with your questions on how to promote your books and your branding.