5 Ways to Not Freak Out During Your First On-Camera Interview

on-camera interview

TV and video can be a great way to connect your brand, company and message to a lot of people fast. But wait — what do you do with your hands? Where should your eyes focus? What if you’re so weird on camera that you end up turning everyone off?

Worry not, says Cara Kneer, seasoned television journalist and host of Atlanta & Company and Atlanta Tech Edge on 11Alive. With 15 years of broadcast experience, she seen all of the good and bad, and thinks overthinking those little details are an all too common rookie mistake.

“You are the expert,” Kneer said. “We want to interview you because you have something to say.”

While confidence in your business is key, Kneer also shares five tricks of the trade to prepare for your first on-camera interviews.

Be basic

It’s all about what not to wear, right? According to Kneer, simple, bold colors always look great on camera. Patterns are distracting, and accessories can present logistical problems.

“I usually don’t wear a necklace because you have to think of where your mike will clip onto your blouse or dress,” Kneer says. “Too many accessories get in the way.”

Be prepared

“I think most nervousness and anxiousness comes from a lack of confidence or lack of knowledge in what you’re speaking about,” Kneer says.

Start with knowing your pitch inside and out. If you have any previous speeches or events that were recorded, watch them.

“It’s one of the most painful exercises,” Kneer siad. “No one likes to watch themselves give a speech, but you may be doing things you didn’t even realize and watching it back can help you fix things you were unaware of.”

Be conversational

Being on TV or in front of a crowd can feel overwhelming, but Kneer says if you can block out the cameras and focus on the person interviewing you, it becomes a simple, natural conversation.

Kneer says practicing with a friend, or just by filming yourself, is key to being conversational. People who make TV look easy do so because they put in the work.

Be concise

If there’s anything Kneer wishes more people knew about TV interviews, it’s how short they are.

“I can think of interviews where I wish I could’ve asked 100 more questions, gotten deep in the ‘sensible’ weeds,” Kneer said. “But we usually have only 5 minutes. You have to constantly keep the audience in mind and make sure that it makes sense to the audience as a whole, not a few select people.”

If you’re prepared with your pitch and messaging, getting the right information out in that short window shouldn’t be a problem. And Kneer says talking to the producers and hosts can help shape the interview for the best story possible.

“We want to highlight the tech scene, shine a light where it might not be, and entertain at the same time,” Kneer said. “At Tech Edge, we want to appeal to those inside the tech sphere and those who might not know how awesome, diverse and kick-ass it is. It’s a tall order, but we love trying to make that happen every week.”

Be yourself, quirks and all

Some media coaches will advise their charges all the way down to the way they smile on camera. Kneer disagrees with that approach, and thinks too much structure could have the opposite effect. Rather, if you fidget or have a weird laugh, Kneer advises you to “go with it” and be yourself.

“Embrace your authenticity and people will be more interested in that, in you, and ultimately your product or idea,” Kneer said. “If your interview becomes about you thinking about what NOT to do, you won’t be able to focus on what’s truly important.”