I used to be a TV host in my past life, so you would assume that being on air is a cinch for me. I was recently interviewed on the Nikki Clarke Show, and I am ashamed to admit that I was trembling right before the camera rolled, and even a few minutes into the segment. How could that be? I used to be a reporter for Rogers TV (albeit volunteer), and I produced and hosted my own fitness lifestyle program. I used to feel confident and never did I feel anxious on air (okay, maybe once when I interviewed Massari...I was smitten).
So, why did my nerves get the best of me during the Nikki Clarke interview? Because I was vulnerable. What if I messed up? What if I said something worthy of tabloid news (okay, I am flattering myself here). When I was a reporter/host, I do remember many guests feeling jittery before the interview. I did my best to help calm their nerves and assure them that they will do fine; and since it was not live television, we could retake. But now the tables were turned. I finally understood how my guests felt. How can you not feel nervous when the focus is all on you.
How will I handle future media interviews? I would have to do what athletes do after each game; critique it. That is how I can improve my interviewing skills, and I am going to be brutally honest with myself.
I have been told when giving critiques, you should first point out the positive things; however, this is me critiquing me, so I am allowed to begin with what I should be improving.
1. Stop fidgeting: I tend to talk with my hands at the best to times, but I found that during the interview my hand-talking was caused more by nerves than self expression.
2.Slow down: Why the hurry? Enunciate your words and slow down. I felt that I paused at the wrong times and stumbled over my words, as if my mouth was talking faster than my thoughts. Which brings me to my next critique.
3. Know your facts: I was so nervous and speaking so quickly, that I felt like I was getting too ahead of myself. I even made one crucial mistake when we were talking about bee stings. I said something like 'the bees do not care to be around humans; they only care to pollinate the flowers'. Even though they do pollinate flowers, their actual mission is to collect nectar. (Mind you, I did learn that bumblebees' main mission is to pollinate, so maybe I did get my facts right.)
4. Were you going on a reptile hunt? As much as I love my cotton python-print pants (my aunt sent them to me from Italy), at the time I thought they would work well with my black sweater and black boots. But they were the wrong choice based on our subject matter: creatures, no matter how creepy, help create balance in the ecosystem! Ooops! Wardrobe malfunction.
5. My flat hair: My hair was bouncy and full that morning, but by 7pm, it had gone flat. I thought a hair clip would do the trick. Nope. It only made my hair look more lifeless.
It is depressing critiquing myself. How about some good points?
1. I made eye contact with the camera: I learned in broadcast journalism that your audience is behind the camera so acknowledge them. Unless the reporter is standing beside the camera and asks you to ignore the lens, you should glance to the camera now and again.
2. Showed my pearly whites: Okay, maybe not so white but I still flashed a smile and I feel that I looked approachable.
3. Flawless makeup: I have my coworker, Brittany, to thank for that. The camera and lights wash you out, so you need makeup to help bring back out your contours and add some colour to your skin. After Brittany was done with me, I looked like I was going to a Halloween party; it was so thick. But once on air, all that washes out and you're left looking "natural".
I may have pointed out things that other audiences may not even notice. But we are our worst critics and maybe there is no harm in studying our on-air presence. The more we perfect our interviewing skills, the more we will be invited to other media opportunities. And as an author, you want to get your face out there and get the message of your books to the readers who deserve to hear about them.