Often when I conclude a mock interview during our media training workshops, I ask the trainee to rate on a ten scale how much energy she thought she had during the interview.
“Oh, around a seven or eight,” she’ll usually guess.
I then ask the other people in the room to rate their colleague’s energy during the interview. They usually rate it a four or five. The trainee is usually shocked.
It turns out we’re not great judges of the amount of energy we convey during media interviews. What feels right to trainees in the training room often looks flat on television – which makes sense when you consider that television tends to flatten people. That means that in order to be a successful television guest, you have to over-compensate by speaking with additional energy.
The single easiest way to do that is to increase your volume by 10 – 15 percent. I’m not suggesting you yell – the microphone will do the amplification for you – but rather that you speak using the most energized version of yourself. That version of you – the one that holds your friends’ attention at cocktail parties – is the version of yourself you should bring to media interviews.
I’ve often thought that New York Times columnist Tom Friedman is a terrific television guest – smart, articulate, energetic, and passionate. You certainly don’t have to be as demonstrative as he is if it’s not natural for you. But you can learn a lot by watching him in action.