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How to Nail a TV News Interview

You did it! You nabbed a TV News Interview. Lights, cameras…hold on…

I’ve done my share of TV news interviews and some went well, some barely okay, and some truly inspired: I nailed the TV news interview. Along the way, I’ve learned a few things to make the most of the opportunity.

Lisa Tener nails a TV interview
On HLN- TV sharing my top mood-boosters in 2020: I shared some great tips, but I had more to learn, in order to nail the TV interview!

What do I mean by “Make the most” of it?

  1. Inspire people. Isn’t that why you wrote a book? To make a difference for people? Whether these folks buy your book or not, here’s your chance to add some valuable information, insights or fun to their day. Go for it!
  2. Connect with your audience. Be real, share something personal so that viewers engage with the wisdom you have to impart and make it their own.
  3. Share your book without being pushy. I have a very special tip for how to do this! Hang on…

Nail Your TV Interview

Today, I’d like to share some of the lessons I learned so you, too, can nail interviews, make the most of your opportunities and spread the wisdom, message and potential transformation that your book offers readers, and that you offer people who see and hear your interviews.

In May, on Good Day, Virginia, as part of a focus on mental health month, I shared the message of how journaling transformed my life in so many areas—a message that I hope will empower viewers to try journaling for themselves and tap into their inner wisdom and creative genius.

Here’s the video:

How to Inspire Viewers on a TV Interview, Podcast or Stage: Ask the Right Questions

The best way to inspire viewers is to be you. On-camera confidence coach and CBS News Correspondent Debra Alfarone reminded me recently that we are showing up to serve, not to sell and not to be perfect or impress people.

My husband, Tom, also pointed out to me that I’m performance oriented. That’s a learned behavior that helped me survive, nab two degrees from MIT, teach at Harvard and succeed in many ways, but it’s not what’s truly going to inspire people.

“Will they like me?” and “Will they be impressed?” are two questions guaranteed to lead to less than optimal results.

Here are 9 questions to help you inspire viewers and feel uplifted yourself (and, incidentally, nail that TV interview):

  • Who are these viewers?
  • What do these viewers desire and need?
  • How can I connect with them?
  • What can I share that will make a real difference in their lives?
  • How are we alike? What do we have in common?
  • What stories can I share to demonstrate that I was once where they are now?
  • How can I awaken viewers to the transformation that’s possible for them?
  • Can I give viewers an immediate tool to provide a transformative or empowering experience?

In an podcast episode of Debra Alfarone’s Sh*t I Wish I Knew In My Twenties, New York Times Bestselling Author A.J. Jacobs said he wish he’d known that, “Helping others is a way to happiness.” So, show up and help.

Think “B-Roll”

While waiting on Zoom during the commercial break before my interview, I heard the producer and an editor chatting about the B-roll. You may have seen me use this term in another blog post a few weeks ago when encouraging writers to “think B-roll” when telling stories, as a way to engage readers and bring your writing to life.

B-roll are the photos and videos that add texture to the talking head part of the recording – they could be photos of your book, bullet point lists (such as benefits of journaling) or cut to a different video, for example. The producer mentioned a slide about benefits of journaling.

Just hearing their conversation got me excited. I wondered what they’d show on the segment.

What I saw when I watched the segment later that day blew me away: a slide with the book cover along with the benefits of journaling, as well as photos taken journaling in one of my happy places — Kinney Azalea Garden. Those bright pink, purple, red, orange, white and multicolored azaleas and rhododendrons added so much beauty to the piece (a shout out to my photographer, Seth Jacobson!).

Amazon A+ content

When I described what makes The Joy of Writing Journal special, they cut to images from the book’s Amazon page that showed the prompts and the QR codes that allow readers to access videos and audio meditations along with the day’s writing prompt. Here, I owe a shout out to my publisher, Tamara Monosoff, who originally planted the seed for this journal when she told me how she uses QR codes to add video and audio elements to her books and her clients’ books.

When we were working on the content for my Amazon sales page, I asked Tamara if she could create some pages that showed off the uniqueness of the journal, and what she created was even more exciting than I imagined. When I saw her beautiful designs repeated on the TV screen, which I only saw later that day, after the segment had aired, I had the feeling of, “Wow, did we really create that?”

How to Share Your Book on TV—Without Being Pushy

Without realizing it, I had found a way to share my book on TV interviews without being pushy. I provided the tools that added interest for the “B-roll” and highlighted features and the joy of my book. You can do that too:

Lisa Tener Joy of Writing Journal
  • Pitch your idea with a benefits-based title solves a common problem.
  • Share quality photos in a Dropbox or google drive.
  • Come up with a list of sample questions that help tell a story and also solve a problem for the audience. Include at least one “how to” question.
  • Share benefits in bullet points that can easily be used in a slide for the B-roll.

And the very special tip I promised? Design an Amazon listing that pops, particularly what Amazon calls the “A+ content” from the publisher. You never know when a TV station will look to your book listing on Amazon for visual inspiration. They may also go to your website for visuals, so make sure you dedicate a page for your book that includes appealing “eye candy.”

My Parting Advice to Nail Your TV Interview

Remember I said to be yourself? The more prepared you are, the easier it is to relax and be real. Practice until it’s second nature to answer the questions you send in to the TV station.

I find it especially challenging to practice on my own. So I asked my posse for help: my son Luke, my husband Tom, my neighbor Paula, friends and colleagues: Joshua, Debra and Portland. I practiced with people of all ages—some who are media experts and others simply viewers.

The more I practice, the more relaxed and authentic I can be on screen. I know what I want to say and I am not wrapped up in whether I’ll mess up! Practice gives you confidence and confidence helps you relax and be yourself. Good luck!

Comment below to share your questions and/or media tips!

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Winner of the Silver Nautilus Book Award & Independent Publishers (IPPY) Award

The Joy of Writing Journal: Spark Your Creativity in 8 Minutes a Day

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

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The Joy of Writing Journal:

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Winner of the Silver Nautilus Book Award & IPPY Award

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