Ex-journalist geeft tips: hoe zorg je voor een geslaagd tv-interview?

27/05/2020

Former journalist provides tips on how to give a successful TV interview.

Media relations Training & Coaching

As the news anchor for Kanaal Z, I literally interviewed hundreds of people. One thing I noticed is that interviewees often struggle to come out with a decent quote. My tip? Decide what you want to say but be open to suggestions from the journalist about the best way to say it. After all, a journalist is looking for the best possible report. So a good quote is music to their ears. You and the journalist are partners, not adversaries. Here are a few more useful tips.

Try not to be overly defensive.

It’s the journalists’ job to ask difficult questions. But that doesn’t make them difficult people. Take the time to break the ice before the interview starts. Have a chat about the day’s news, for example, or the previous night’s football match. This will make you more comfortable when you get to the ‘on the record’ portion of the discussion. And don’t forget: the sting is in the tail! Hence the trickiest questions are usually left to the end, so don’t let your guard down.

Measure the length of your quotes. 

A report in a TV news show is rarely longer than 2 minutes. This means that a journalist will choose two 20-30 second quotes, at best. So make sure that your answers aren’t too long. Otherwise, they may well be cut during editing. And you’ll lose control of the communication.

Keep the message simple.

No matter how well-informed you are about the subject at hand, the average viewer will have little prior knowledge. So don’t overcomplicate the story. Too many details don’t work, as your story will get bogged down in them.

Set 3 key messages and practise them.

Make sure you know, in advance, which key messages must be contained within the story, i.e. your answers. Practise expressing these messages with a colleague or on your own, in the mirror. Set up a Q&A too (or ask your advisers to do so). 

Think about the interview’s location.

A small office should be avoided because the camera operator needs space to frame the picture. Hold the interview outdoors or let the journalists record additional shots in a production hall, where there’s a bit of activity. Or in an office, where people are working. This adds dynamism. You can also provide your own images. But ideally, these should be raw images, i.e. unedited.

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