Want to Make Sure the TV Cameras Love You?

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8 Tips for Being a Great TV Talk Show Guest

Article at a glance

  • Relax and treat the host like a friend
  • Dress in solid, darker colors
  • Be an expert guest, not a salesperson

Making your first television appearance as a guest on a news or talk show can be one of the most thrilling, and nerve-wracking, events in your publicity campaign.

Let’s face it – we think TV, we think celebrity. It’s exciting. Ever spot the anchor from your local TV newscast dining in the same restaurant as you? Did you grab your companion’s arm, point, and say, sotto voce, “Look!”?  (Yes, I’m guilty, too.)

As much as TV can be a shot at junior stardom, it’s an equal opportunity to fall flat on your face – at least, that’s the fear many people have. That’s why I’d like to introduce you to Russ Handler, our TV Campaign Manager at EMSI.  Russ has some tips to offer from his years of experience as an on-air traffic anchor and producer for a major-market news station:


  • Take some time well before the show to prepare what you’ll be talking about.  You’ve only got about 3 to 5 minutes, so you want to make the most out of that on-air time.
  • The way you look is critical, because your appearance affects how the audience perceives you.
  • Avoid wearing white clothes, which tend to wash out on camera, and tight-patterned fabrics, which can make the picture flutter.  Solid and darker colors are usually best, but simple patterns like stripes or polka-dots are okay if the pattern’s not too tight.
  • Avoid shorter skirts, shorts or turtlenecks and loose jewelry around the neck or wrist.  The microphones are sensitive and may pick up clacking beads and bracelets. Remember that your footwear may be visible, so make sure your shoes are in good condition and reflect your professionalism.
  • Ignore the cameras. Instead, have a friendly conversation with the hosts as if you’re sitting with them in your home.  The more relaxed you are, the more competent you will appear and the more the audience will warm to you.
  • During the interview, if the host motions for you to look at a monitor, it’s because the video or graphics being displayed is what the audience is seeing on their screen.  You should comment on what the viewers are seeing and, if appropriate, use this opportunity to convey your message.
  • Make sure to bring a copy of your book or a sample of your product to the station.  Before the segment, talk to the producer and ask whether you can display it during the interview.  It’s always a good idea to bring extra product samples or books as gifts for the host and producers.  If you’re an author, an autographed copy of your book is also a nice touch.
  • Keep in mind that it is NOT the hosts’ responsibility to mention the title of your book or product or where viewers can buy it, so make sure to mention that at least once – but DON’T turn the segment into an infomercial. If you have a book that’s sold on Amazon.com as well as a personal website, mention Amazon; viewers are familiar with it and will be more likely to remember it.

Before you walk into the studio, remind yourself to be informative, animated and expressive. This is your moment to shine, so go for it.

I hope Russ’s tips help make you a star on your first – or next – TV appearance. Don’t be surprised if the next time you go out to eat, you see diners pointing at you and saying, “Look!

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