Media Interviews: Looking (And Feeling) Your Best

The following is an excerpt from the #1 International Bestselling book, Media Secrets: A Media Training Crash Course, by Jess Todtfeld, CSP.

Looking the Part (then feeling it, too)

How do you look relaxed, comfortable, and confident? There is a huge disconnect between the way an interview feels and the way it looks. Because of this, you might end with a completely different perception of what happened. Fortunately, there is an easy way to climb outside of your body and have a more objective view of what happened.

How do you do this? Record yourself, on video . . . and then watch it. This allows you to see what is happening, and keep making adjustments toward making it look better.

This is the only way for you to, quickly and objectively, course-correct, and begin to see yourself the way the rest of the world sees you.

This cannot happen by talking to yourself in the mirror, or by simply thinking about what you should do. An athlete would never just sit and think about competing. They have to get out in a real situation for practice to work. By the way, this technique is important whether we’re talking about:

  • TV interviews
  • Radio interviews
  • Print interviews
  • Internet media interviews

The data you learn from using a video camera is golden. This gold will pay off in how much faster you’ll improve.

Important to note: When you view the first few practice takes, you may not like them. That’s fine; you should be glad that you made some mistakes when there was no pressure and when it didn’t count. Step one is practicing so you look relaxed, comfortable, and confident.

Practice (on camera) LOOKING like you are confident and comfortable.

Many of you have heard the phrase “Fake it ‘till you make it.”

Forget that adage. I say:

Act It and Become It.

Clients often report after about a minute or two of acting this way,
they begin to feel it as well.

The Good News

99% of my clients report after watching themselves after a first video rehearsal, that it LOOKED far better than it felt. That’s an interesting phenomenon. It’s also step one toward realizing you can actually do this.

The Bad News

You have to see yourself on camera. That means you’ll hate the fact that your hair appears backwards, your voice sounds funny, you’re feeling the “camera adds 10 pounds” effect. You might ask yourself, “How many cameras are on me?!” In this book I will give you techniques to deal with all of that trepidation. When critiquing yourself, you must learn how to become a fair critic of yourself.

This means:

  • Notice what is actually working. (Do more of that.)
  • Notice what isn’t working. (Do less of that.)
  • Let go of being over-judgmental about things that may not be big issues.

This all probably seems like common sense, but people let a lot of negative thoughts in their heads become limiting factors.

Practice Is Easier Than Ever

Making a video recording of yourself is easier than ever. Video devices are built into our smartphones, computers have web cams, there is often a video feature found on many digital still cameras.

So, there’s no excuse for not using this important tool to get some real data (on you!).

Steps to Feeling Better and More Prepared During Interviews

The following list contains different practices you can try if you would like to feel better during interview situations:

  1. Prepare your messages in advance.
  2. Understand The Answer System (explained in full detail in the Media Secrets book).
  3. Practice so the first time you deliver answers, it is not during the actual interview. Not practicing and hoping everything will be perfect is really making the process much harder. Unless you are a seasoned, comfortable interviewee, not practicing is a risk no one should take.
  4. Practicing with a video camera, using the playback, deciding what works and doesn’t and then repeating the process until you get the desired result.
  5. Experiencing interviews. Anything new can be stressful. The more you experience the process, the better you will feel. (You can practice privately and become more at ease during this process.)
  6. Working with a media trainer. Shameless plug here, but of course working with an experienced and knowledgeable coach at your side helps you to get to your destination even faster. All of the top athletes and leaders in business have coaches by their side.
  7. Listen to music that pumps you up on your way to the interview.
  8. Watch the interviewer in action prior to your interview. The more you get a sense of their style, the more you can strategize on how best to handle yours. This is helping you to eliminate the unknown. The more we can eliminate from the unknown, the better you’ll feel.
  9. Put yourself in the interview location. In some circumstances you may be permitted to sit on the set of the TV show or sit/stand where you know the interview will take place. You can practice in your mind if people are close by. Being in the location, prior to the actual interview, will be a help and relax you more.
  10. Visualize and experience a successful interview. Of course, it helps if you have clear messages and have practiced them, as well. Then, you will have something concrete to visualize.
  11. If possible, chat with the interviewer prior to your interview. You can get a sense of where they plan to go in terms of the direction or tone of the interview. Make sure not to do this in a demanding or combative manner. Their job is to get the story and do right by their audience. Also make sure you realize that anything you say during this pre-interview or conversation is fair game for the actual interview. Nothing is “off-the-record.”
  12. Practice Power Poses.


Increasing testosterone, the hormone most associated with power, and decreasing cortisol, the hormone associated with stress, will definitely give you a confidence boost. Stand with your arms up in a winning “Y” position for two minutes. This is meant to be done alone and prior to the interview or you’d look plain silly. According to researcher and Harvard Business School Associate Professor, Amy Cuddy, this positioning is common not just to winners of sporting events and marathons.

Young children who have never seen this power pose do it naturally after getting something they want. Blind people who have never seen it have thrown their arms up in victory. This is even something that has been seen in the animal world with primates.

Adopting expansive, open nonverbal postures that are strongly associated with power and dominance can increase testosterone by about 20% and decrease cortisol by about 25%.

Lower energy poses will do the opposite. Wrapping your arms around your torso or hunching down will achieve the opposite result.

Gee, if only people knew this when green rooms (the waiting room used before a TV interview) were designed. While waiting, most people sit down nervously in a tight ball for 40 minutes or so prior to an interview. Not exactly a recipe for success.

The formula for successful media interviews:


By following these few simple and specific steps before an interview takes place, you will be put yourself in a better position to get your desired outcome(s) from the interview process . . . and feel good at the same time—a win-win for today’s media savvy professionals.

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