How to survive a media interview – down the line, TV

When you’re to be interviewed for a broadcast program on TV and you’re based some distance away from the TV station concerned, although sometimes just an audio track will be used as in radio “down the line”, you’re likely to go to a related TV studio closer to where you live and be interviewed “down the line.” More convenient and cheaper all around. There, you’ll be interviewed via an ISDN line while sitting in front of a remote camera and conversing with an unseen interviewer.

How to survive a media interview - down the line, TV

A television down the line interview will be done with you in a remote studio many miles away from the initiating broadcaster. They will insert an appropriate background electronically and ask you questions via an earpiece or other prompting device.

The way to handle this “down the line – TV version” is very similar to the way in which you handle audio (radio) “down the line” interviews, except for the fact that you will be in vision while you listen to questions and answer them. (So no picking your nose or staring out of the window, OK?)

What’s “down the line” in TV terms?

Basically, it refers to any TV material that is derived from a live studio source other than that which broadcasts the material in the first place.

For example … the story you are due to comment on is being broadcast from New York City but you do the interview “down the line” from Baltimore. Much as you might like to have the TV station crew fly you up to NYC to do your interview live with you in the studio, budgets are budgets … so you’re likely to be invited to do yours “down the line” from a compatible TV station locally.

This concept applies equally in the UK, across Europe, and across many other nations worldwide as far as I understand.

What can you expect at the “local” TV station?

Not much, frankly. It’s important that you make sure you have the correct contact information for the people you need to see locally.

Obviously you will be sat in front of a camera, so you need to be aware of its presence despite the fact that it’s just a blank piece of equipment with few or no humans around it!

Chances are the whole contraption will be controlled remotely … not by the people who work in the TV station where you are, but possibly – even – by the studio where your interview is based.

Just you in shot?

No. Your lovely upper body will be enhance by a backdrop that comprises not what you want, but whatever the broadcast station feels is appropriate.

Don’t panic: this won’t be your office or back bedroom: it’s much more likely to be a panoramic view of your town or city, or a wide-angled image of whatever it is you’re talking about.

What else?

You might only have a stool or simple chair to sit on. Don’t complain! When you’re given an earpiece to use, you’ll be told exactly how to put it in properly and use it. It won’t make you look goofy: it’s just a discreet way for the TV station to communicate with you, and for the interviewer to ask you questions.

Next to the camera you might find there are a couple of other screens which are monitors. One of these will show your interviewer and the live program you’re involved with. And don’t panic: if you see yourself on this screen … it doesn’t mean you’re live on TV!

What next?

Given that the show you’re on goes out live, you’ll hear it through your “cans” (earpiece) and see it on one of the screens.

When you’re about to go live the crew will tell you, via the earpiece, that it’s show time. Don’t fret! Simply look at the camera. Your first question will come over, maybe after a short preamble.

From here on, remember to use all the skills you have learned in this series here on HTWB … see above for the whole group.

And don’t forget…

Make sure you dress not how you like to express yourself, necessarily, but more how you would like your target audience to see you. Avoid wearing red (it still jangles, even on modern TV) … vibrant prints, stripes, etc. … and any clothing or accessories that will take attention away from what you  have to say.

Check how you look – in a hand mirror. No matter how serious your subject matter – and whether you are male or female – there is nothing more distracting for TV audiences than someone with an incredibly shiny nose or scalp.

Don’t be shy. If you’re asked to appear in a down-the-line TV interview, even if you don’t normally wear makeup do your business or cause a favor and at least bring some compressed powder with you to dull down any unfortunate shines. Unlike appearances in main TV studios where there are makeup people to do this, in a remote down-the-line station you may not have this benefit.

And that’s it: simple, really, and a lot less frightening than many people think.

What experience do you have of giving down-the-line television interviews? Please share your tips… 

Check out all the articles in this series about how to handle media interviews…

How to survive a media interview – watch out for over-confidence

How to survive a media interview – down the line, radio

How to survive a media interview – how to handle yourself

How to survive a media interview – familiarize yourself

How to survive a media interview – why do it in the first place?

How to survive a media interview – down the line, TV

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