Public Speaking Tips for Live TV

Today I want to share my experience speaking on live TV with you. A couple of years ago, I got invited to do a short segment on Fox 26 Morning News and if you think live TV is scary, let me tell you yes, it is. It is absolutely terrifying and quite a few things went wrong during the segment. Today, I want to give you a few tips on how to handle live TV.

If you prefer audio only, you can listen to the full episode on my podcast. below or on iTunes.

As some of you know, I own Nutty Scientists of Houston which is all about inspiring kids to fall in love with science so I was invited to Fox 26 Morning News to present some science experiment ideas for parents to do with their kids for Valentine's Day. I arrived at the studio ahead of time because I didn't want to be late and this is when the feelings of being overwhelmed really kicked in. I was surrounded by lights and microphones and people knowing what they're doing and there was so much stuff going on. I realized, oh my gosh, I have to be on camera live in just a few minutes and this is absolutely terrifying! Then something interesting happened.

A reporter walked in who was just doing a small prerecorded segment where he would go live and say a few things before the segment would play out. I was watching him as he was waiting his turn and I realized he's nervous. He was absolutely nervous. He was pacing and looking at his notes and was very serious and concerned. That made me feel better because I realized I'm not the only one here who is nervous. Then he walked into the filming area and once he was live there was no trace of that overwhelm and anxiety. He was professional, he was smiling and laughing, he was great and that really put me at ease more than anything else.

So, my tip number one for you: If you feel nervous, you're not alone. Take a deep breath and just keep on going because professionals are nervous too.

My tip number two: Be prepared for the unexpected.

How do you prepare for the unexpected? What I mean is that you should always have a backup plan, ideally several backup plans, just in case if things don't work out quite the way that you're expecting them to. For example, just before my segment was going live, we were all prepared, our table was set up with all the science experiments, and we were ready to go. We were literally going live in a few minutes. The anchors came up to us, introduced themselves, and we have a little bit of a chit chat. By then the teleprompter was already on so camera was about to start rolling when one of the anchors turned to me and said, “Oh Victoria, by the way, your segment is cut short. Instead of five minutes as you were prepared for, we're going for a minute and a half.”

This is when the cameras start rolling and I am looking at the camera like a deer in a headlight because I'm realizing everything we rehearsed, everything we prepared for, has to be scratched and redone on the spot in front of live audience and I'm the first one to start the demo. To be totally honest with you, I did not have a backup plan. I was prepared for five minutes and I really didn't know what to do, so I improvised very quickly the best I could. However, I could have been better prepared if I had done a little more research on TV, especially live TV. I probably would have found out that this happens a lot, especially when your segment is the last segment before the program ends. Since ours was the last segment, I could have known that our five rehearsed minutes could potentially be cut short.

Tip number three: Know the anchors or the host.

I don't think this would have been an issue for other people but I literally do not watch TV. I have never watched Fox 26 Morning News before in my life. I've never seen those anchors and I did not think about researching them. Here is my advice to you, you always need to know who you're meeting. You need to research who they are and you need to read about them. The reason is so that when you come into the studio, you feel like you know them, you feel like they're your friends, you feel like there is some common ground. That way when you have a little bit of a chit chat before or after your segment, you can actually build a connection with that person. That connection makes it easier and makes it a lot more comfortable to be on live TV with them because, as you know, it's always easier when you have a conversation with somebody you know versus a total stranger.

Tip number four: Mistakes will happen. Roll with them.

Look, mistakes will happen we all know that, so don't even think, “Oh well, maybe mistakes won't happen.” No, they will happen. You want to be prepared for them. Think them through, think through the scenarios of what could happen. If a mistake happens and it’s the type of mistake only you know about just continue with the show. Maybe it's something you wanted to say but forgot to mention or maybe you took a little bit long to say something but it's still okay, if this is not noticeable by your audience then just continue going. Don't even pay attention, don't even think about it anymore. Just keep on going like nothing happened because if you know about your mistake but your audience doesn't, it's fine. Just continue rolling.

If you make a mistake that is noticeable, like in my case I could have been making a volcano as one of the experiments and the volcano didn't work because I didn't put the right ingredients in there, then of course it's noticeable. Then what do you do? You can't just continue going like nothing happened because something did happen, your audience did notice. What you do is you smile, you laugh it off, and you keep on going. You know, any time you fall down, you smile, you get up, and you keep on going. You do not fall into pieces. You cannot fall into pieces on live TV. It doesn't matter that your audience is watching. Your audience is far more likely to forgive you for your mistake if you laugh it off because doing so makes it very human.

And the last tip, tip number five: Be yourself.

This is so important. There is nothing more important than being yourself whether you are on live TV, on camera, or on stage because when you are yourself, you are comfortable in your own skin. There is a lot of freedom in being yourself. You actually feel calmer when you are being yourself because you don't need to pretend, you don't need to think oh, what should I say? No, you just say what you think, you just be yourself. Your audience can read it, they can see it and they can relate to your authenticity. Have fun with being yourself. This is such a unique experience. This is something that doesn't happen every day for most of us. A lot of people do not get to go in front of live camera every single day, so enjoy that experience and be the best version of you. Don't try to imitate anybody, just be you.

I'm going to link to my live segment on Fox 26 Morning News. Have fun watching it now that you know the backstory! Have a fantastic day and I'll talk to you next week.

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