Your Media Training Re-Boot: Part 1 of 2
Addressing ‘Do I have to Smile?’ and Other Missteps and Misconceptions
By Joanne Stevens
Given our breathtaking, unrelenting news cycle- TV viewers are being bombarded by a never-ending litany of new, professional guests within group discussions. The majority of their wisdom and insight is helpful.. but in many instances I get frustrated by folks who could benefit from some media tips.
Here’s some advice that should at make at least me more comfortable as I watch them.. and perhaps it might liberate some other folks from a few misconstrued rules. My blanket recommendation: Please know that making assumptions, or following mis-guided advice from well-intended friends and family will often find you uncomfortably ambulating a wrong road. .
Here are some interview tips that might prevent folks from tripping up:
- A briefly stated answer or analysis (Media Point) with a noteworthy lede line is more powerful than just going on and on… keeping me on-edge as I struggle to isolate your points. Bear in mind that this concise technique of sharing wisdom allows for presenting several points in answer to a single question- so not only will we follow you more readily, but you can pack more in.
What is a Lede Line? An attention-grabbing statement that tweaks a listener’s interest, after which he/she is motivated to listen to what follows. It serves as the first sentence of your Media Point. It could be a fact or interesting statistic.. an analogy..a personal generalization or philosophical observation.. or a tip, or word of advice.
How long a contribution is too long? There is no, one numerical answer. I've been at my work for so long that I admit I just hear a ding sound in my right hemisphere when a sentence or full answer exceeds my listening limit. Let’s say that:
- Each point should be about 4-5 simple sentences- including your lede line.
- Simple sentences rarely have mid-sentence embedded phrases.
- You can go as short as 2 or 3 sentences if you want to pack a wallop
- Starting with ‘but.. and.. so..’ is permissible .
- To avoid being tagged as a time grabber: let's say you shouldn't go longer than 3 brief points per answer.
- Know that concise sentences are more readily tweeted out by producers and extrapolated as soundbites in subsequent news of the day reporting
- Do your homework! You won't regret it. Watch 1 or 2 of the shows you'll be showing up on. Listen to a few of the regular contributors' complete comments,. These folks are often those who were first consistently invited guests; they have the lede lines and contribution length down.
- There is no ‘blind-siding’ with unanticipated questions or topics. You might share that you are ‘not prepared to cogently address that’- or whatever natural phrase you might use. Follow up by contributing on a broader scale or a contiguous issue.. eg. ‘I think it’s important that we touch upon xx..’ or ‘something else I believe is significant here is… ‘ and share something interesting/worthwhile. Best advice: always come prepared with a few extra media points up your sleeve.
Thank you for reading all of the above.
And now: the answer to the pressing question keeping folks up at night:
- No- you don't have to smile!! If you're comfortable being there- just talk!! As long as you're sincere about your answer, your eyes and facial expressions will be freed up to deliver a natural mix of expressions and innuendos.
The non-forced smile holds true for the beginning of the show as well. If you're told to look into camera 2 as you're being introduced- why would you smile if the topic is serious? Of course if you’re excited to have the opportunity to pose fresh insight into a topic, you may find yourself with a twinkle in your expression that seems to communicate a sense of 'I can't wait to share my thinking with you’. Bottom line- if you’re prepared and ready to contribute, trust your natural body language. .
Thank You for Watching for Part 2