6 Tips For Preventing The Pre-TV Panic Attack

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Many times the elation of winning a TV interview spot is followed closely by the panic of having to do live TV. And I do mean panic. I’ve had clients who’ve hyperventilated, bailed at the last minute and frozen on camera. Luckily, they weren’t my clients when those things happened… and that’s because a bit of preparation goes a long, long way to solving the pre-TV panic attack.

Here’s a few basic rules and tips to keep your TV appearance a positive thing for you and your business or cause:

Do Your Homework

Watch an episode or two (or three!) of the show or segment you’ll be appearing on. Pay attention to what the set looks like, how the hosts interact with guests and each other, and any certain “shticks” common to the show. Memorize the hosts’ names.

Set Goals

Be clear in your mind what you want to accomplish during your appearance. Is it to be perceived as an expert? Is it to promote your location, services, products or event? My most recent appearance was to be part of a live giveaway of Father’s Day items from a shopping center (Smith Farm Marketplace in Owasso) who is a client of ours. The segment was going to be about 90 sec., and I wouldn’t be talking for  even half of that. I knew I wanted to mention several of the contributing merchants by name, mention the name of the shopping center & it’s location (Owasso) and remind people that they had two shopping days left and could find everything they needed for the Dad on their list at Smith Farm. Quite a bit to work in over a short amount of time, unscripted and in response to hosts’ questions. Knowing clearly what I wanted to communicate helped me not waste any words or time, and we got the job done.

Practice Up

While it generally isn’t best to script and memorize your words because you typically won’t sound natural and relaxed, you SHOULD say key phrases out loud and listen for troublesome words, sounds or blends so you can reword. If the topic is emotional or potentially volatile, practice answering questions on topic calmly and clearly. Have someone help you by asking you pointed questions and taping your answers so you can see your own reactions.

Dress Appropriately

Use the anchors as your guide… go for brighter colored solids, paired with darks, blacks or neutrals. Avoid fire engine red and stark white and avoid narrow stripes or diagonals. If you do a print or a pattern of any sort, it should be non-distracting to the eye. Anchors wear simple shapes and colors so the visual focus is on their face or on the video they’re showing. Keep jewelry, hair accessories or other add-ons simple, too.

Be A Good Guest

Arrive on time and check in with the producer as soon as you do so. Usually the receptionist or person greeting you will direct you to the “green room” or waiting area for guests and will let the producer or assistant know you’ve arrived. Ask if there is anything you need to know, what time you’re scheduled to appear, when to exit the green room and where to go when you do so. Make sure your teeth are good to go (no everything bagel lodged anywhere it shouldn’t be… !) and take a few deep breaths.


Report to the set when you’re instructed to do so, listen for camera instructions, cues or prompts and/or the “launch question” for your segment and any other last minute words of wisdom from the producers, hosts or crew. Then relax… it’s a conversation, you’re prepped and ready, you look great on camera, and you’re a model guest. You’ll knock it out and then you’ll get asked back… feel free to repeat the above steps as often as necessary on your way to expert TV personality 🙂

If you have tips or hard-won wisdom for doing TV well, please share them in the comments!


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