Tips for television interviews: be energetic, unhurried

tn_friedman.jpg Marsha Friedman says: relax

So you’ve got your 15 minutes of fame and you are about to represent yourself, your company or your cause on a television interview. No pressure! Wrong. It will be unnerving and pass quickly. Study the tips suggested by publicist Marsha Friedman.  Be energetic and concise. Pay attention to body language. Pay attention to the interviewer. Be descriptive. Strike the proper emotional tone.

Why not do a mock interview with friends and supporters.  Encourage tough questions. Practice thinking on your feet. I love and hate television. Noting else has the reach . . . or the shallowness. I have been a television guest a few times in conjunction with my reporter’s duties and I remember one time that I wish I had been able to take one of Friedman’s exhortations to heart. She says the last thing you should do before going on-air should be to research your topic for new themes or subtopics:

“If the anchor asks you a question about a timely news story and you don’t know what he’s talking about it erodes your credibility, and ‘likeability factor’ to their audience.  So it’s a good idea to do a quick online news search for any stories related to your topic right before your scheduled interview.”

 Would that I had done that back in the late 1990s when I was covering the Microsoft antitrust case from a bureau office in Silicon Valley and I was invited to appear on either CNN or FOX in San Francisco. I had to drive up to the city after filing my column and I barely made it to the office. No time to check anything. And what am I asked?

“What do you think about the ham sandwich remark?”

So there I am on network television with a look of astonishment on my face: ham sandwich? Well, as it turned out, Joel Klein, the Justice Department lawyer prosecuting the government case had that very day filed a legal brief to the effect that Microsoft had asserted the right to require computer makers ” to put ‘orange juice’ or ‘a ham sandwich’ in the box with a PC” as part of the contract for loading Windows onto the machine.

Of course I had not checked in advance — I suppose I had a pretty good excuse but what did it matter. After a brief and painful experience I was allowed to leave. I was never invited to return. All over a ham sandwich. Well at least I know why Windows is so slow in booting up. It’s got to eat that ham sandwich and rinse it down with OJ.