Skype Studio Setup

With most TV interviews being done via Skype to protect against the spread of coronavirus, here’s how we recommend you set up an at-home studio to guarantee the best lighting, audio, and background.

  • For the best lighting: sit so the light (natural or in-door) is shining towards your face and not the back of your head.
  • For the best angle: place your computer on a table or stack of books on a table so the camera is eye level.
  • For the best background: make sure the objects behind you are appropriate and well placed. A bookshelf is always a good option.
  • For the best audio: use AirPods. Producers are requesting that guests use AirPods because they eliminate feedback and guarantee the best audio quality.

Virtual Training + Coronavirus

Stuck at home out of an “abundance of caution” to protect yourself and others from coronavirus? Us too.

So, why not use this time to refine your media interview and/or public speaking skills? DMG offers virtual training for all experience levels from the comfort of your home.

Just like our in-person training, virtual training focuses on best practices for media interviews and public speeches. Our team will work to identify strengths and weaknesses as well as strategies to further refine visual, vocal, and verbal performance via the same real-time practice and critique as our in-person training.

If virtual training sounds like a great fit for you and your staff, email info@districtmediagroup.com for rates and availability.

How to develop talking pts

Talking points get a bad rap because people assume talking points = scripted. But in reality, well-developed talking points = preparation. And the reason you want to prepare is so you’re able to control the interview by communicating your message regardless of the questions asked.

Below are a few tips to help you develop the best talking points for your message:

#1 — Condense. The more you know about a topic, the more difficult an interview will be because there is so much you COULD say. The trick is to determine what two or three points best sell your message to the intended audience – what do they care about? – and then physically write them down.

#2 — Don’t memorize. Once you determine the two or three points you want to make, it’s important to NOT memorize them. You’ll sound rehearsed if you try. Instead, create bullet points to summarize your talking points. You’ll stay on message and you’ll sound conversational as you allow words and phrases you’d naturally use to fill the gaps.

#3 — Internalize. Now that you’ve written out your talking points and understand how each can be summarized into bullet points, it’s time to practice out loud. You’ll find that your ability to remember and deliver your talking points is much easier when you’ve taken the time to not only write down what you want to say but to also say it out loud.

The One Word Rule

One-word answers to a reporter’s questions are never a good idea until they are.

Secretary Pompeo proved the effectiveness of this strategy in recent interviews around Soleimani’s killing. In the interest of safety and strength, he was right to answer serious questions like “Any plans to evacuate the embassy in Baghdad, sir?” and “Any plans to pull some of the 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq out?” with a simple “none.”

“None” communicated his point, left no room for misinterpretation, and underscored the severity of the situation. But it’s also interesting to note that he didn’t lean into the interview with a one-word answer. He first gave a 30-second assessment of what happened, which enabled him to be concise in his following two answers.

We often encourage clients to fill the time they’ve been given because you only get so many questions to communicate your message. But if the nature of the interview is such that national security is at risk, one-word answers are not only allowed but recommended.

DMG Adds Virtual Training

Happy 2020!

In the first post of the new year, we’re excited to introduce something brand new — Virtual Training.

We love working with our clients in-person, but we also know that time and distance can make it difficult to schedule training when you need it most. Virtual training allows us and you greater flexibility.

Just like DMG’s media training, Virtual Training focuses on best practices for print, radio, and television interviews. Our team will work to identify strengths and weaknesses as well as strategies to further refine visual, vocal, and verbal performance via the same mock interviews and critique as our in-person media trainings. The training is capped at 60 minutes and is customizable — we can accommodate anything from a general refresher to tailored prep for a specific format or show.

If Virtual Training sounds like a great fit for your media training needs, email info@districtmediagroup.com for rates and availability.

How to win the mental game

Nailing a media interview is equal parts technique and mental game, but more attention is often paid to the importance of mastering what you say and how you say it rather than your mindset before and during the interview.

We’re here to say that your mindset matters and will absolutely determine an interview’s success. So, before you put all your effort into mastering talking points, body language, and facial expressions, it’s worth your time to develop the right mindset.

Here are three ways to do so:

#1 — Realize perfection is a process
Your first few interviews probably won’t be great, and that’s ok. There is a learning curve everyone has to face, but the one obstacle that will keep you from making progress is fear. You have to allow yourself to be human, make mistakes, and learn. A good perspective to keep: if you’re speaking about an issue you believe in, the worst that can happen is you’ll think about how you *could’ve* made the point better, but you won’t ever regret making the point.

#2 — Don’t be afraid of the media
A media interview IS NOT a battle of wits between you and the reporter. It’s your job to acknowledge the question asked and then immediately pivot to your talking point. If helpful, think of the reporter as a facilitator. They are there to fill air time and ask questions. It’s up to you whether the discussion is meaningful.

#3 — Always speak to the audience
Consider who you’re speaking to and what you want them to know regardless of the question asked. People are tuning in to hear from you and get your perspective on an issue, so give them your perspective.

The key to your audience’s heart

Humor goes a long way to make someone like you, and we think there’s no better approach than self-deprecation. If used appropriately, self-deprecating humor has the power to instantly unite speaker and audience for the simple reason that it’s hard to dislike someone who’s just made fun of himself.

Here’s our best advice for how to be self-deprecating:

#1 — State the obvious

Does the audience know something unflattering about you? Has the media latched onto a past mistake you wish to not be identified with anymore? Then use this opportunity to make a joke about it. (The keyword here is “obvious,” so the joke only works if everyone knows what you’re talking about.)

For example… “[George W. Bush often] beat comedians to the punch by telling many jokes at his own expense. He opened the 2005 Correspondents’ Dinner, for example, by saying, ‘I look forward to these dinners where I’m supposed to be funny . . . intentionally.’”

#2 — Play off the unexpected

If something happens during your presentation that is unexpected – mic fades, lights blink, you trip on stage – laugh about it. If you ignore the mishap, the audience will continue to think about the awkward moment you didn’t acknowledge instead of what you’re saying.

For example… “How refreshing, then, was Romney’s quip upon taking the stage with glitter in his hair, thanks to an ambush from a gay activist: ‘That’s not all that’s in my hair, I’ll tell you that…I glue it on every morning, whether I need to or not.’”

#3 — Don’t apologize

The last thing an audience wants to hear as they settle in for your presentation is a disclaimer. Do not apologize for being tired, having less star power than the previous speaker, etc. Instead, make fun of yourself.

For example… If you’re the last speaker of the day, joke about how you have the power to hold the audience hostage, delaying happy hour well past the time that anyone can be considered happy anymore. Insert a line about “with great power, comes great responsibility.”

FINAL NOTE. Be self-deprecating, but not too much. There’s a fine line between ingratiating yourself and making the audience feel bad for you. One joke at your expense is enough.

How to Sit in the Hot Seat

For the past few weeks, we’ve provided you with a series of tips to demystify the TV interview process. You’ve learned how to communicate with the producer and book a TV hit as well as navigate the green room, which means it’s now time to talk about the hot seat. Here’s what you can expect:

#1 — Mics and IFBs

Someone will mic you up and place an IFB in your ear. This audio device allows you to hear the host as well as the producer, so they can announce when you’re about to go live and then give you the “all clear” once the interview ends.

You’ll notice a knob on the box clipped to the back of your chair for IFB volume control – don’t hesitate to use it.

#2 — Live Feed Monitor

There will be a monitor near the camera that displays a live feed. Some people like to see themselves, so they can fix any stray hairs and adjust their tie, but others find it distracting. If you find it distracting, feel free to ask the person staffing you to turn it off.

#3 — Always Be Ready

Until the producer gives you the “all clear,” assume you’re live. This applies to commercial breaks and well after the host says “thank you” to end the segment. Just keep smiling or maintain a pleasant resting face.

Green Room Etiquette

Last week, we talked about how to prepare for your interview and what to expect from the producer. This week, we’ll address the next step in the process – green room etiquette.

Help us help you be a low maintenance guest by following these three simple rules:

#1 – Check in with the makeup artists.

Even though the makeup artists have a rundown of the guests and corresponding hit time, it’s best to let them know when you’ve arrived. You’ll likely walk by the makeup room on your way to the green room, so just take a minute to check in with them first.

A note about makeup artists: they want you to be happy with your hair and makeup, so don’t hesitate to speak up and let them know what you prefer. We’re not suggesting you dictate the exact cheek color, but you can request a bold lip, smoky eye, overall understated look, etc.

#2 – Don’t take selfies. 

Maybe this goes without saying, but here we are saying it – don’t take selfies with the other guests in the green room. Most people use that time to refine their talking points and prepare for their hit, and you will too.

#3 – Hydrate.

Always grab a water and take it with you to the studio to prevent a sudden case of dry mouth. There’s nothing worse than anticipating a live hit with a dry mouth and no way to remedy the situation.

Working with Producers

TV hits are weird and wonderful, but a little scary if you’ve never done one. Over the next several weeks, we want to demystify the process by outlining every step. Let’s start at the beginning with how you can prepare for the interview and what to expect from the producer.

Here are the top 5 things to know:

#1 – The producer will reach out to you a couple hours before your hit via email– they will include the topic, but not the questions.

#2 – Once you know the topic, it’s likely the producer will expect you to respond with your point of view. We suggest you not offer too many details– no need to write out your talking points verbatim and hit “send.” Please know that if you include a clever phrase or two, the host may use it in their intro to your segment. If you’d like to use that clever phrase on air, refrain from including it in your email.

#3 – The topic is subject to change, so be flexible.

#4 – If the producer offers car service, accept. This way you don’t have to worry about parking your car or navigating public transportation.

#5 – Thank you notes are not just appropriate for good hospitality and job interviews, they can also get you invited back for future TV hits.