October 22, 2016

10 Ways to Prepare for a Televised Appearance

tv camera

The work of the small business owner is to create a customer and to communicate the value of his product or service through the mass media. Here’s how to get ready:

“The American people don’t believe anything until they see it on television,” said President Richard Nixon.

The call will come and you’d better be prepared. Your success in building your small business has generated demand for your products. And it will also generate demand for an additional service: Your experience.

This is your expertise that you willingly provide — for free. It is seldom a good business practice to donate consulting at no charge, but this is an exception. Consider it a part of your marketing budget.

There are hundreds of broadcast network, cable, and radio outlets that need expert commentators — talent — to fill thousands of hours of airtime. This is marketing that requires preparation and counsel.

George Uribe, President and CEO of GuestBookers.com LLC, writes, “We work with you to find your hook and get you placed. We don’t just book you on a show. We work with you to understand the business…Our media trainers go over physical appearance, interview protocol and content development.”

This is a form of earned media as Anita Campbell, here at Small Business Trends, “reminds” us.

Following, is a short 10 point primer to get you ready for your big showbiz marketing break:

Talking Points

Not too many years ago, talk show host John McLaughlin — would not allow any of his guests to have notes on the set. But you, the professional don’t need them. Your talking points, your elevator speech, will be memorized. The broader the audience — the simpler and narrower the message.


Cable guru Roger Ailes would evaluate an individual’s professionalism by watching that person on the TV monitor — with the sound off. Ailes says that if, as he watched, he caught himself standing up to turn up the volume, he knew he had a client he could help. But most of these compelling performances do not come naturally — presentations are learned, practiced behaviors.


This is your audition where the booker/producer will run you through your paces. They claim they are looking for competence, of course. But this is show business — the producer is looking for entertainment. Are you personable? Are you likable? Remember, televised media is similar to print media reporters: the story is already written, already in the can. The writer or booker is merely looking for quotes. That’s why they’re called talking heads.


The network will offer to arrange for a car. Accept it. Don’t burden your staff with driving — and directions.

Coach in Your Corner

Take your peeps with you — your entourage. This will give you a chance to practice your opening 8-second sound bites. I once shared the Green Room with the controversial comedian Andrew Dice Clay. He appeared — joking and smoking — with his wife(!) two kids, publicist, agent, and assorted strap hangers. The driver and his dogs remained with the car.


You Don’t Have to Answer Questions. Especially if the segment is taped, you answer the question with the answer you want to convey. Your message. Remember, you do not have to be perfect. The 1940’s radio personality, Fred Allen, called television “a medium” because “nothing is well done.”


The appearance is time consuming. An interview can take up half a day. Here are numbers down the funnel:

  • 3 hour notice (maybe) to prepare, if you are not alerted the night before
  • 1 hour pre-interview
  • 2 hours in traffic
  • 25 minutes for makeup and mic-up
  • 35 minutes (in the chair) taping, all for …
  • 8 seconds (maybe) of airtime


Gore Vidal once said, “Never turn down a chance to have sex or to go on TV.” But it might not be worth it. (The TV part, I mean.) Only agree to an appearance if you can advance your agenda. There are some debates that cannot be debated. Or that you should not touch — outside your expertise, or the interests of your company.


Ask the producers how you did. Remember to have your tech guy capture a digital copy. Get — no — demand, honest feedback. There is always something that can be improved.


Be sure that your appearance is promoted. Clips of your appearances can be shown at board meetings, in company reports, as part of your bio. Your company blog and social media. This has become vital in our civilization. The historian William Manchester writes:

In the early 1950s Max Lerner said that television was, “the poor man’s luxury because it is his psychological necessity.” Judges would agree: TV sets would not be seized by creditors for debts owed.

Mass televised media has become a public utility for delivering entertainment and information. Be available as a practiced expert for your small business.

Television Appearance Photo via Shutterstock

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Jack Yoest

Jack Yoest John Wesley (Jack) Yoest Jr., is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Management at The Catholic University of America. His expertise is in management training and development, operations, sales, and marketing. Professor Yoest is the president of Management Training of DC, LLC. A former Captain in the U.S. Army and with various stints as a corporate executive, he also served as Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Resources in the Administration of Governor James Gilmore of Virginia.

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42 Reactions

  1. Aira Bongco

    It’s nice to have pre-interview to get yourself prepared. This way, you know the questions coming your way and you know what to say.

  2. Jack Yoest

    Aira, you are right — the presenter must alway practice and memorize the company talking points: See http://www.yoest.com/2005/09/12/memorize_your_sales_pitch/


  3. Victoria Principato

    Practicing is definitely key to being prepared for a television appearance. Knowing what to say and how to say it will make you appear more knowledgeable in a television appearance. Viewers can be extremely critical of anyone appearing on television, so it is important to do all that you can to be prepared. I like the idea of having a “coach in your corner” to feel more at ease during the interview process.

  4. Jack Yoest

    Victoria, you are so right — practice and memorization is vital for a compelling presentation– either in mass media on the networks or cable– or to your team in an All-Staff meeting. See: http://www.yoest.com/2005/09/12/memorize_your_sales_pitch/


  5. I believe a great takeaway from a television appearance is definitely honest feedback. Interviews and television may be unpredictable and perfection isn’t necessarily possible. Although preparation is key to success, mistakes will still occur and it’s beneficial to ask for comments and suggestions for improvements. I think preparation for appearances is heavily important because it’s not always about answering the question but more so about getting your message across. After all, you’re on television to appeal to something or someone. There has to be a motivating factor and goal for each interview and appearance. Lastly, I thought it was unique to mention the topic of “exploit.” I learned that it’s not enough to just complete a task, but also, one must also follow through with how it can benefit the company in the future.

  6. I think that it is really important to remember that you do not have to answer all questions that you are asked. I know that personally I feel like it is an obligation that you answer every question. But for a televised interview you do not have to do this. I think that remembering to answer the question that fits most the message that you want to convey is key for your audience to hear. Also it is astounding to me that all the time put into a televised interview will only get limited airtime. That is why it is so important to answer those questions that will further the message you have for the audience.

  7. I could not have said any of this information better than you have. I think most important is practice and understanding to not always answer the question. Growing up, my best friends’ father was always in the radio and television business. Right now he is currently the head television announcer for the Philadelphia Phillies. While growing up and always being over his house, I would often see all the preparation he would go through for a game he would announce the next day. It was even more fascinating to watch him on television the next day and watch his preparation become real life broadcasting. In the context of not always answering the question, I think this is essential in broadcasting. There are certain things that should not be said on television and it is important to say what the people want to hear.

  8. I loved the breakdown of this article into ten simple and understandable steps. The article highlighted some important points. Practice and surrounding yourself by a great support system being two of the most important. The only way to give your best “performance” is by taking the time to practice your selling points. Without practice how can one be fully prepared to answer questions that come out of left field? This is where your support system comes in. They are the only ones who will ultimately give you the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Simply because, they love you enough not to let you make a fool of yourself in front of the general public. Without a great support system who are willing and able to help you prepare, is it possible to be well prepared for the interview?

    • Jack Yoest

      Erin, you are right– honest feedback is good when it is nice — but the best feedback makes us better and this is actually the ‘tough love’ you describe.

      A well-reasoned comment,

  9. Preparing for a televised appearance can be a stressful thing. You need to make sure you appearance looks good and you have to prepare for what you are going to say. By practicing both of those, you can have a successful appearance. In todays generation, anything you say is going to be recorded so you need to be carful with how you word things. You have to remember that everyone is going to have different opinions so being confident in what you say is key.

    • Jack Yoest

      Joseph, excellent points — the professional presenter is sometimes wrong but never in doubt, as the old joke goes.

      But you point remains: the sales and marketing executive must be confident and this comes with practice.


  10. It seems that prepping for live airtime media is a very stressful thing. I believe that practice does not make perfect, but in fact perfect practice can help reach close to perfection. So by practicing these highlighted topics I believe that someone can be very good. I like the “Coach in the Corner” idea because it helps someone relax and just be themselves before airtime. I think a good takeaway is to just practice and learn, learn what you can improve upon to become that much better for the next film take.

  11. In my opinion, I think the most important element is to practice. Think of the most significant questions that you might ask if you interviewed someone. I agree that with more interview experience a person gets more confident and comfortable in speaking. I learned that most of the people don’t not do perfectly. In terms of the interview time I never knew that It could go up to a half a day. Feedback are very important to improve your performance and to know where your weakness, so you can perform better on the next interview. I really learned a lot from this article and also enjoyed reading it.

  12. I think it is so important to remember that you do not HAVE to answer a question for a TV interview. When being interviewed by a media outlet about an internship with the US House of Representatives, one of the questions asked was “do you agree with all of the Congressman’s views?” As an intern, you do not bring any of your own political views into the office, but simply convey the Congressman’s stances. This question, while deemed inappropriate by other coworkers, can be handled by simply stating “I would prefer not to answer that question”. This indicates that you do not wish to answer the question in a respectful manner. TV appearances do not have to be a stressful ordeal, and you always have the option of a non answer!

  13. This article gives the ten ways to prepare for an appearance in a simple way and easy to understand. However, it seems that it is a stressful thing to prepare and plan. Practice is one thing that jumps out to me in this article. Even though airtime is really short (8 seconds), this does not mean that the speaker can just go live on air and not have practiced what they are going to say a million times before that in order to deliver the message properly. Also, since the time allotted is short the message has to be something that the watchers will care about and is easy to understand. The feedback might not always be positive but it’s always helpful so that the presenter knows in which areas to improve in and how to prepare for the next airing.

  14. Donald Trump better take some notes and learn a few things from this article. While Trump has defied all of these points, people continue to support him. Explicating upon issues that are exterior to your expertise only diminish your legitimacy, which is why many potential voters and I lost interest in the front-runner GOP candidate. The best response when asked a question you don’t know the answer to is to simply admit it your lack of knowledge on the subject. Donald trump answering questions on the Nuclear Triad is similar to Steven Hawking recommending on the best weight lifting exercises to gain weight. Steven Hawking would tell you he has no knowledge of weightlifting, and nobody would discredit his genius in him saying so.

  15. I am a firm believer of the phrase “there is always room for improvement: Getting honest feedback from a tech guy or a viewer helps enhance your communication skills. A little criticism does not hurt once and awhile because it makes you more motivated and aware of what you need to work on. Without hearing a viewer’s opinion, you really do not know if you actually grabbed their attention. Your presentation could have been just a bunch of meaningless words. Honest feedback, impels you to engage your viewer emotionally and convince them that your product is worth it.

  16. I think it is interesting that they are not allowed to have any “notes” on the set. The interview is rehearsed and prepared. They know the questions beforehand, and they practice their answers and what they will say and how they will say it. I really like how they said how they always encouraged honest feedback because no matter how well you did there is always room for improvement. A main focus is always make sure you are entertaining, because being interesting and having something interesting to say is key.

  17. In my opinion, I think the most important element is to practice. Think of the most significant questions that you might ask if you interviewed someone. I agree that with more interview experience a person gets more confident and comfortable in speaking. I learned that most of the people don’t not do perfectly. In terms of the interview time I never knew that It could go up to a half a day. Feedback are very important to improve your performance and to know where your weakness, so you can perform better on the next interview. I really learned a lot from this article and also enjoyed reading it.

    • Jack Yoest

      Mahmoud, True, we all want to perform perfectly — But, as you write about appearances, “most of the people don’t do perfectly.”

      Our efforts may not be perfect, so we must practice to get as close to perfection as possible.

      Well done,

  18. Mary Margaret Sheridan

    This article has some great tips, most of which can be used for a job interview. Practice and is so important for making the best impression. In both a television interview and a job interview you will want to have prepared talking points so that you can say what you want to say. I like the point of the non-answer, tailoring your response to fit the message you want to convey. Feedback is also important for both a television and a job interview. You will want honest feedback about how you did so that you can learn from your success and your mistakes.

  19. Though I have never been asked to be on a televised show before I completely agree with the ten pointers this article gives. I fully agree with practicing before you are on TV. I know for myself I always overanalyze after I do something and realize I could have done it in a better way. By practicing your interview beforehand you disregard that problem. I thought something that was really interesting was that the author advised to not always go on television. I always thought any press is good press but now I understand that sometimes the costs outweigh the benefits when it comes to TV appearances.

    • Jack Yoest

      Teddy, good observation–conventional wisdom tells us to talk on any topic in any medium — but just as you would not interview for just any job, the professional does not go on television to speak on any topic outside his/her expertise. And would decline the media offer.

      Well said,

  20. Jack Yoest

    Mary Margaret, you are right about answering only those questions you wish to answer to advance you agenda in a televised interview.

    However, if there are difficult questions in the job interview, they cannot be ducked — or you will seem to be evasive.

    If there are challenging issues in your background that might come up in a job interview — you might consider other strategies. For example, if you job requires three years experience in [X] and you have only one year, you might bring this up before the hiring manager: Who ever raises the objection, owns the objection.

    A good comment,

  21. Whenever one is faced with the challenge of appearing in public, one has to be prepared and follow certain social cues. This is especially important for small business owners because their appearance reflects heir business which is what brings in their income. Appearing on public television may be nerve-wracking for anyone especially for someone who is not accustomed to public appearances. To be able to make a good impression following the tips in this article such as asking the producers for feedback is extremely important because it demonstrates ones willingness to improve. Also, practice is essential to perfecting ones appearance because it shows preparation.

    • Jack Yoest

      Maria, you are right–we all get better only with practice. A media appearance is the most “nerve-wracking” experience that any one can undergo as you note.

      Well Said,

  22. Abdulaziz Almuhanna

    I think the more you practice the more you look better and more professional in the interview. Also the pre-interview could help to improve your confidence.

  23. I found this article interesting, it mentioned many aspects for how to be prepared for a television interview. In my opinion, practicing is the key to do a well interview.

  24. I agree that television is an excellent way to communicate with the public. Nowadays, most things are publicized through electronic platforms. Not only are people able to publicize themselves through television, but they are also able to through social media, such as Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. It seems that people are better able to legitimize their message and publicity through television, so it is extremely important that people carefully consider their appearance and presentation. Viewers are quick to judge and blow up situations in which simple mistakes are made. When such is the case, people can immediately make a mockery out of a serious situation, and the person’s public reputation could greatly suffer.

  25. I thought this article was very interesting. I do strongly agree that practicing is one way that you can be sure you are thoroughly prepared. Knowing your own talking points is crucial to keeping the conversation at ease, but taking in to consideration the person you are withs potential talking points is also very important. Thinking on what the other person may say to you can help you to come up with ways to deflect or appropriately answer a hard question.

  26. I found this article to be very interesting. It gave many worthy and valuable points to consider when you are preparing an interview. Practice what you will say, and know and understand what you are saying well. This way when you are interviewed on camera you feel confident, prepared, and capable of engaging the audience on a matter you feel very passionate about. Another important point mentioned in the article was answer questions you want to answer, because you want the audience to be informed of important points that you are able to disclose to them. Lastly a very valuable point when conducting a TV interview, or any interview, is always ask for feedback, because no matter how great you did, there is always something you can improve on.

  27. This article is right because you have to learn how to present yourself for public speaking opportunities. It may only be a quick 8 second stint but the re are millions of people watching that interview and some people freeze up or stutter, to ruin their chance on TV. Not to say some people can’t play it off, but confidence and practice make all the difference in front of larger audiences. MY mentality is that if you believe than everyone else will believe because the majority of people like to be followers in a group.

  28. I am a currently a public relations intern, and my main role is to manage visitor relations and give tours of the building that I work in. It took me several weeks before I had all the information to give a tour on my own, but I found that in earning my independence I used several of these same tactics talked about above. I had to shadow several tours in order to get the information down, but in shadowing different people, I picked up several different talking points to differentiate my tour from that of my peers. When I felt I was getting near prepared to give tours on my own, I sought out the advice of my boss and co-workers in order to help me better understand which aspects I was not fully grasping. Finally, when I was able to to a tour on my own, I asked for both positive and negative feedback. Every tour I give is practice for the next, so I am constantly improving on the consistency of my information and my composure. Even though I am not appearing in front of a televised audience, I feel that my job and a television appearance are the same in that they have an inherent nature, in public speaking.

  29. The great takeaway from “how to prepare for television appearance” would be preparation. Six of the suggestions would be considered preparations. I was once told that you can never be over prepared. I believe this is true and applicable. A television appearance can boost your stock and completely change how people view your company. That’s why preparation is key because it is your chance and you do not want to mess it up. Talking points is also very important because that touches on someone’s “why” and explains why you do the business your in and what kind of persona and business you are trying to market. Talking points are paramount in the seriousness of the interview and when someone has great talking point’s it gets the audience engaged because they agree or disagree which will be beneficial to your company.

  30. I found this to be a very interesting read. I was taught about televised appearances when I first began to study business, when I was 16 years old. It incorporated a lot of what you mentioned here, along with 6 other key points; always be honest, prompt, believable, and concise, turn negatives into positives and always stay cool. Taking these 6 tips in conjunction with these 10 ways to prepare, it should be a very enjoyable experience. Throughout the whole post, the main thing that stuck out to me was preparation. Preparation is key in all walks of life, whether it be for an exam, job interview, or a television appearance. It is interesting to see how something so small that people tend to overlook can make such a huge difference.

  31. In high school my track coach always told me this saying, “Practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.” And after that day he told me that, everything I do I have that mindset too. Which is why having people critique you in mock interviews is so important and improving every time finalizing your perfect interview. Regardless of how cruel or harsh someone’s remarks may be its all for the best and helping you get to that perfect interview. Since it is not practice makes perfect but perfect practice that is perfect.

  32. I find all 10 things to be very important when preparing for a televised appearance. Having absolutely no experience, I think the three biggest takeaways from this article would be practice, non-answer, and feedback.

    The media can be so manipulative so it is very important to know what you are going to say and say it correctly. Practicing your speech or answers will help you do this.
    Secondly, the media will try to exploit you and twist your words to make some type of scandal out of it. You don’t have to answer all of their questions. If you find yourself in a vulnerable position, try and connect their question with an important message you want to convey. Take some tips from the Miss America Pageant; you can never go wrong with “World Peace”.
    And lastly, the media will judge you. There are people from various places around the world that are watching you and most likely critiquing your every move. That’s ok. If you are going to be in the public eye— you better have some tough skin. Regardless, I wouldn’t listen to the negative feedback; take the positive feedback and use it as constructive criticism. You can only improve, and there is always room for improvement. (Unless you’re Steve Harvey, that’s a tough one to bounce back from).

    See? Judgment. Sorry Steve.

  33. I agree that when the call comes, you better be prepared. Of course you can deny the option to go on tv, but that would be a shame just because you were unprepared. Practice makes perfect. Not everyone is a natural at talking in front of a camera. It is also very important that you do not have to answer every question you are asked if the segment is taped, as mentioned in the article. The most surprising thing to me was the amount of time that goes into getting ready for the actual interview which is usually very brief. If I was offered one, I would hope I would be notified at least a day in advanced and no later.

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