What to expect from a live TV interview

What to expect from a live TV interview

Steve Blears Media Training Guide

What to expect from a live TV interview.You'll be expected to speak on live television. You'll need to be concise and to the point and make your best points first in a compelling way.

Prepare for five questions and expect to answer three. Offer a few facts, comments, opinions and examples on your subject.

Your airtime is limited so don't waste it with waffle, like "That's a great question" or "I'm so pleased you asked me that." Avoid yes-no answers and be as expansive as possible in the limited time. 

Tip! Remember, an interview is about question-and-answer turn-taking so don't waffle, make your point and wait for the next question.

How to do a live TV interview

How to do a line TV interview. As nerve-wracking as it may seem live TV interviews allow you to make your point un-filtered and edited. They're quick and much more time efficient than pre-recorded interviews. Increasingly they are done online.

  • From home on Zoom (or similar): Look at the camera lens on your laptop/computer. Position yourself with good light on your face from a lamp or window. (Avoid being backlit by a window as you'll look like a silhouette.) Make sure you are in a quiet spot without the risk of being disturbed. Clear background clutter and sensitive data, photos, calendars on the wall etc. Avoid the temptation to read from notes. Consider your "resting face" as you may not be speaking but will be in vision. It's ok to smile. Have some water handy, try to relax with some beep breaths in advance. Imagine you are just having a conversation with a friend or colleague.
  • In a remote studio (just you and an unmanned camera): You'll meet a fixer at the studio location who'll get you into position. A producer or studio manager will speak to you via phone with more details of when you'll be on-air and answer any queries. You'll be given an earpiece to hear the presenter's questions. Look at the camera lens while you speak. Remember you may be in vision on TV while you are not talking before, during and after the interview.
  • In a studio with a presenter or on location with a reporter. You'll be given advice and guidance on what to do and where to look. Live news studios are busy places so don't be shaken if the presenter doesn't even say hello before the interview. Your chance to speak will be over in a flash so DON'T waste time with a pre-amble like "Hello (presenters name), I'm so pleased to be here." Make your best point first, and speak in full answers with your comment or opinions and examples. If you feel you are going on a bit just stop talking and wait for the next question.

How long does a TV interview last?

Advice! Live news TV: 1-3mins depending on the programme, watch the show for durations.
Pre-recorded news TV: 3-20mins (will be edited). If the interview is at a non-studio location, factor in extra time for the camera crew to set up.