Do’s and Don’ts from a Veteran Television Producer

By Sandy K. Johnson     In today’s journalism world, anybody can do video. But not everyone does it well. Heather C. Dahl, co-founder of The Cynja and a longtime producer for Fox and PBS, offers some best practices for journalists who will be interviewed on-air. Do your homework. When the booker calls, put on your reporter’s hat and ask questions. Find out which show you’ll be on, for long how, what the topic is, and who will be hosting. Then prep yourself by watching that show with that host. Make sure you allow plenty of time to get to the studio to be prepped – you’ll be flustered if you rush in at the last minute. Settle on your talking points. Politicians do it; so should you. Determine your key points, write them down and rehearse them. Remove jargon and words you have trouble pronouncing. Don’t try to bluff your way through questions you don’t know the answer to. Stick to what you know. How you look matters. Dahl says she’s not trying to turn you into an anchor-bot. But you should invest in on-camera attire that does not distract from what you’re saying. Best: tailored, solid-colored clothing that is professionally pressed. No-nos: scarves, hats, big jewelry, bold prints. Double-check your makeup and hair, since high-definition TV shows every stray hair, blemish, spinach on your teeth, etc. When the camera is on, sit up straight and on the edge of your chair.