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.

B²: Say what?

Though you might not wear a hearing aid now (or for a long time), you will have to wear an IFB in a satellite interview. Just like Stockdale’s hearing aid, the volume on your IFB may be turned down or it could malfunction. Either is possible, so you should be prepared to graciously answer the question you can’t hear instead of adopting a deer-in-the-headlights stare.

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q: “<Insert muffled question you can’t hear>?”

B² (if you only hear a portion of the question): “I didn’t hear the entire question, but I think you asked about <insert issue>. My take is…<insert talking point>.”

B² (if you can’t hear anything): <Place your hand over the ear with the IFB> “Do you mind repeating the question? I’m struggling to hear you.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, remember the audience knows the only audio you have is via an ear piece. They will forgive you if you have to ask the reporter to repeat the question or if you have to admit that you only heard a portion and will answer as you want. These rules also apply if you do wear a hearing aid now and have trouble hearing the moderator or reporter. Just replace “IFB” with “hearing aid” in the above instructions and you’re all set.