Presenting is a hard skill to master. Most people find it challenging to stand in front of a crowd or interviewer to deliver a statement, a speech or to answer questions. Add to that television cameras and smartphones capturing your every move and the pressure can seem too much.
At Adoni Media, we offer presentation skills training courses to help prepare CEOs, executives, athletes, academics, not-for-profits and community and business leaders to front the media. Leisa Goddard’s 25-plus years of journalism experience means she knows how to train you so that you can effectively tell your story.
Each of Adoni Media’s presentation skills training activities are personally tailored to suit individuals and their businesses. They include real-life scenarios, with a journalist and cameraman asking you the tough questions, so that you can practise the techniques you need to succeed when the media comes knocking. Other activities we offer include a “bounce”, “sting” or “unscheduled interview” where a camera is thrust in your face and a journalist asks the tough questions (imagine A Current Affair). We also a one-on-one sit down or standing interview, a mock live cross and press conference mock up.
Alongside a booklet containing presentation skills material, Adoni Media works through a company’s key messages with its staff and prepares professionals for interviews. These presentation skills workshops improve every type of professional from doctors, through to wildlife carers.
Here are the fundamentals you need to know to feel confident and comfortable in front of a reporter:
Familiarise yourself with the information you want to say during an interview or press conference and practise the delivery. Get your key messaging and remember to speak in a succinct way. A television journalist will only use one or two “grabs” of your interview in their story. These only last about 10 or 15 seconds, so know your message and say it well.
Arrive early for your interview and get to know your surroundings and what type of space you’re going to be speaking in. Also, familiarise yourself with any other relevant information, so you’re prepared for any question that’s thrown at you during the interview.
Claim your space. If you’re standing, put your shoulders back and hold your head high. Your toes should be pointed towards the camera or the journalist – the cameraman or reporter will give you guidance as to where to look depending on the type of shot they want.
If the interview is seated, sit tall but make sure you’re comfortable – the last thing you want is to look uncomfortable on screen. Avoid chairs that swivel if you can – moving side to side is a nervous habit you won’t even realising you’re doing but it can make you look unreliable and shifty on camera.
Men should undo the bottom button of their jackets and sit on the back of their jacket – this helps to create clean lines. On clothing, avoid busy patterns as they can distort on camera.
Practise in front of a mirror and watch how your body moves when you talk. Look out for quirky hand gestures and facial expressions, as these can alter the image you want to project to the public. Try to be natural and relaxed – you will appear more calm and confident throughout the interview.
Gesture as you would normally but be wary of the microphone and your surroundings. The last thing you want is to bump into or knock over a microphone mid-interview. Don’t touch your face or fidget with your hands – this can distract people from what you’re saying and make it look like you’re unsure. Similarly, roaming eyes can make you look untrustworthy so ensure you maintain eye contact.
It’s normal to have nerves before and during an interview but your voice must remain strong and confident. The best way to prepare your voice is to find a quiet space and hum so that your pursed lips are vibrating. This will help warm up your vocal cords and level out the sound of your tone. Also count to 10 in varying pitches to loosen your vocal cords.
Running or actively trying to avoid a television camera it just about the worst thing you can do from a media perspective. It’s best just to stop and stand your ground – let the media gather around you so you take control of the situation and impending interview.
A sure-fire way to calm nerves during an interview is to breathe. Taking a breath can help slow you down if you find you’re talking too quickly. It can also give you a moment to gather your thoughts before answering a question. If you stumble on a word or make a mistake, stay calm, take a breath and simply start the sentence again.
7. Seize the opportunity
Presenting is intimidating, but with proper preparation and training, you will feel calm, confident and collected when a journalist approaches you for an interview.
Knowing how to present is just one piece of the puzzle. Deciding what to wear for a television interview can also determine how you’re viewed by the public.
In today’s technological world, visuals are everything. So, you may need to be ready for the camera at any time. If you’re story has been picked up and you’ve been asked for an interview, you need to be able to dress appropriately for your audience. The presentation skills’ objectives are there to help you practice and learn the best ways to present and be interviewed.
How you’re viewed on camera results in how the public perceives you and the organisation you’re representing. An interview can also a good opportunity to show off your brand to the public. Consider background branding or logos on your shirt to boost brand awareness. You’ll want to charm your viewers to make they are actively listening to your message by appearing professional and confident on camera.
Keeping your outfit simple will make you look more professional. So, wear a well-cut, classically styled jacket with tailored clothes underneath that don’t appear baggy. You should wear something you feel comfortable in, as you’ll want to look at ease and confident on camera.
Avoid wearing patterns and choose a solid coloured shirt, unless you’re a fashion designer – this is where you show off your style and brand. For females, dresses should always cover your shoulders with a high-scoop neckline and avoid large jewellery and earrings.
These might interfere with the microphone and can be really distracting for viewers, also try to not wear white dresses or jackets.
For males, ties are optional and depend on the organisation you’re representing. Ties need to be hanging straight and make sure the knot is right at the top. If the tie’s askew, you might give off the impression that you’re an unprofessional person and don’t really care about your presentation.
It’s important to dress for your audience that will be watching your interview. For instance, if your viewers are a young crowd, don’t wear a suit. So, research the organisation that’s interviewing you and figure out what their genre, and who their audience, is.
If you’re representing a not-for-profit organisation or something that’s very casual, it makes sense to wear a T-shirt with your logo on it. It also makes sense to wear something that is on-brand for your organisation.
If your organisation saves wildlife and are showing off animals during the interview, it is appropriate to wear a khaki outfit or what you usually wear for work, like what the Irwin family wears.
Also consider if it will be a night-time interview or if it will take place in the early morning. Maybe ask the media organisation what attire is acceptable and what’s not. That way knowing what you need to wear in advance, is made easier.
If you’re being interviewed outdoors, it’s best to know your surroundings so you can plan for the unexpected. If you’re exposed to the elements, you need to dress for the temperature you’re in. You don’t want to be seen shivering or sweating during your interview.
Use hairspray to keep your hair in place if it becomes windy. However, if you’re interviewing in a studio, that won’t be as necessary, but keep it in mind as you’ll never know what will happen. You’ll need to be aware of the lighting they will use when applying your makeup. There won’t always be a make-up artist that will attend to you, so apply your own makeup and keep it subtle with no shiny lip gloss.
The less shiny the better, so remember to apply powder to your face. Even men sometimes need makeup to avoid appearing shiny on camera. So, don’t turn down the opportunity as you may regret it later. Find out if you’ll be standing or sitting.
You could be seated behind a desk, stool or couch. So, research what the host usually wears and what shots are used during the segment. For instance, maybe only your waist-up will be seen on camera and you’re bottom half won’t be seen. If you’re seated, your socks might be visible, so if they’re brightly coloured or too short, your audience will become distracted and focus on your feet instead of your message.
Colour really matters when being viewed on television. Get to know what colours work for your skin tone. You don’t want to wear pale colour clothes that make you appear to look washed out. You also need to consider the studio backdrop as well.
Be aware of green and blue screens in studios, so don’t wear any items of clothing that matches these backdrops or else your body might disappear!
Every colour always has a certain meaning behind it. For instance, dark colours show strength, authority and power, whereas green represents peace. Red makes you appear to be strong and assertive and blue gives off a calm and neutral vibe.
Knowing how to dress for television interviews can really set how you and your organisation are perceived by the public, so dress appropriately.
There are many positive outcomes and benefits of presentation skills courses. These courses are effective in teaching any professional how to be interviewed by the media.