How to: television interviews


Last week, I was hosted on NTV’s morning show “Morning@NTV” to talk about “Homegrown Love”. Like the name of the show suggests, it’s aired in the morning and it’s live so yes, you have to be there before the break of dawn looking fresh faced and camera ready. I woke up at very ungodly hours to get to the station for this interview…scratch that…I did not sleep. I was so darn nervous that I didn’t sleep.

I’d never been on television before. If I have, it certainly wasn’t the reporter’s intention to get a shot of me nor my intention to get captured. I’m not one for the spotlight, I find it very uncomfortable…all those eyes…but sometimes you have to put your big girl panties on and work it like a boss.

I think I did quite well on the interview. I could have better but oh well, time ticks on. I am preparing myself for more interviews in the future and because I have love for my peoples, compiled a “How-to” list to help you cope with your television interview nerves. (You should be thanking me, sending me bouquets of roses and brand new laptops. No one did this for me, but I’m doing it for you)

Yes, after just ONE television interview I am a pro at this “ish”. Where’s my trophy at? Can I have my own segment already?  #letmebevainforasecond

Without further ado, “How to tackle television interviews…for dummies”

  1. Nerves are normal and they show their uninvited little selves in the strangest of ways; sweating, freezing and failing to speak, shivers, the strange need to pee, nausea. Keep telling yourself this is all normal and it’s all in your head. These first points help you tackle “being nervous”

  2. If you know you sweat when nervous, wear something that is super absorbent like cotton. Stay away from materials like chiffon that show EVERYTHING. What’s worse than forgetting what you wanted to say on an interview and instead having a sweat patch the size of Africa that the camera will pick-up. So wear comfortable absorbent clothing.

  3. Make sure you’ve used the restroom. You don’t want to hear the countdown to show time and then hear your bladder say, “Hello!”

  4. Pray you have a nice television host who will make you feel comfortable being in front of those mechanical boxes that pick up on everything you say and do for the next couple of minutes. Remember that last part. They are watching. They are transmitting.

  5. Say a prayer. Tell God you will tithe when you’re supposed to if He gets you through this, but if this is your bargaining chip then *laughs out loud* think bigger and smarter. Just say, “I love you God. If you love me too, get me through this.”

  6. Design your own mental questionnaire and have mental Q&A sessions over and over and over again. At some point, the gibber you repeat to yourself and believe in strongly will come out in the interview

  7. Remind yourself of the most important points and find a way to incorporate them into ever answer you give during the interview. If prepping with a friend before the interview by say going through a few Q&A sessions of your own off camera works for you, do that. It doesn’t work for me. We tried. It just made me more nervous.

  8. Drink coffee or tea. I had one large cup of coffee and it either woke me or warmed me, either way, it did something.

  9. Let your mother call you before you go onto set. Let her! Pick up the phone when she calls and let her gear you up.

  10. Think about how much of a disappointment you’ll be if this interview sucks and how you’ll never hear the end of it and just do as well as you can.

  11. Don’t try to use new words that you have never actually used in speech. Keep it simple.

  12. Listen to a fun upbeat song right before you go on set. Nothing dramatic or sad or excessively deep that evokes unwarranted memories and thoughts. Try something that makes you bubbly and happy. If you have your own music that’s just super. I happened to have God working all things together for my good and somehow music was played in the studio. Guess what song it was. Miley Cyrus “Party in the USA”. So while the microphones were placed on us, I was there bobbing my head to “…nodding my head like yeeeaah, moving my hips like yeeeaah…it’s a party in the USA”  Yo’ by showtime, I was still in the party mode, which helped calm my nerves.

  13. Take a deep breath and do mouth exercises: round your mouth, widen it, yawn if you must, say “A E I O U”, “Cow, now, cow now…Steak on a break to ease my stomach ache…Peter piper bought a bit of bitter pepper” or whatever speech exercise you can you think of at the time. You can even make it up, like I did. You’ll look like a dumb fool having a mental breakdown but it kinda works. I’ve seen it done in movies and on a TED talk once. It can’t be for nothing.

  14. Carry a tiny piece of paper with cues of something you need to talk about. Subtly keep checking it so you add it to the interview. I didn’t do this but I wish I had. I had a number of opportunities when I could have subtly remembered my cues, like when the cameras were focused on the host of showing an image of the book.

  15. Drink more COFFEE! Refer to #3 after this

  16. Pray again!

  17. Have fun! It’s just conversation. Yes, it’s in front of these large robot-like things but remind yourself that it’s conversation with a person who wants to know more about what you are presenting to the world. So talk to him, the same way you’d speak to a person on the street…but fancier.

  18. Have fun!


Tagged , , , , , ,

One thought on “How to: television interviews

  1. ayampatra says:

    You have killed me Elma 😂😂. I wish I’d been there to help with these nerves, I imagine I am much better at this than dealing with my own. As if I don’t know what that’s like, I have always run away from the opportunity when it arises…the last time I said, let me just get this done with, I thought I did quite alright but now I can’t stand the sound of my voice. Funny when my always-on-tv colleagues watch me turn the volume down, they understand. My boss hates the sound of his voice too [I fail to get this because his voice is made for this], your host over there, Brian, was all kinds of nerves when he first appeared on air as an anchor, even after years of doing TV… So, it happens. Really, it does. The interview is great, I see no clear evidence of nerves. You ladies did great. Congratulations on your first of many more interviews to come and of course on your baby, “Home Grown Love”. I look forward to adding it to my personal library

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: