Going on live TV is a kick—but there are certain things I wish I’d known first. Like how fast three minutes really is and why dark lipstick is a girl’s best friend.
In my role as Delicious Living’s food editor, I’ve done three live TV appearances on local Colorado stations in the past few weeks. It’s been a baptism by fire (can you say “no formal training?"), but it’s been fun and I’ve learned a lot—and I even hope to do more. Ready for your own close-up? Here are some things I’ve learned so far.
This appears to be true whether or not you’re having fun. As it turned out, it WAS fun; but I couldn’t believe how fast three minutes passed. At the end of the first segment, I actually had to interrupt the host’s sendoff to add an absolutely crucial point (“look for the organic seal”)—one of about six things I forgot or didn’t have time to say. The key: Talk fast and stick to no more than three key talking points.
Have a handler.
The first time I did a TV spot, Delicious Living's wonderful publicity guru, Heather Smith (who set the whole thing up), was unfortunately out of town and couldn’t be there to hold my hand. For the second and third spots, she went with me, and that made a huge difference in my state of mind and readiness. So it’s a good idea to take along someone reliably positive, cool, and collected, to make sure you’ve got everything set up correctly and to tell you if you have a weird piece of hair sticking up.
I found out that in a live TV broadcast, there are no broadcast breaks. So while I’m setting up for my segment, the TV anchors continue the endless news cycle, including, most often, horrific stories of crime and mayhem. The first time I went, hearing the actual news really disturbed me and threw me off. I’m an emotional person to begin with, and it felt wrong to be all chirpy about food after hearing those terrible stories. So to stay positive and get the job done, I learned to tune out everything until after I’m done.
Wear lots of makeup.
I expected that the station would have makeup people. Wrong. (I’m sure Oprah does, but local stations? Not so much.) The first time, I barely wore any (my usual look) … and standing next to the perfectly coiffed and heavily made-up host, I looked downright ghostly. The lesson: Do your own makeup at home, and use a heavy hand. Those lights blow out all colors, so don’t be shy!
Forget the camera.
The first time, because I thought it would be smart and cool to connect with the viewer, I kept looking at what I thought was the correct camera (the one the host started with). Found out later when I viewed the clip that it was the wrong camera, and I was just looking off into space like a dork. So now I just look at the host; it looks way more conversational and natural.
As in, Keep It Simple, Stupid. There’s a lot to say about food, whether it’s a topic like artificial colors (my first segment) or demonstrating recipes (second and third). Refer back to point 1: The time goes ridiculously fast. So again, memorize up to three, but no more than three, things you really want to be sure to say. Every single time so far, I’ve forgotten key things I wanted to say (such as giving shout-outs to our wonderful Delicious Living retailers) because I didn’t have my points firmly in mind.