Looking Good on TV – Part One (Book Excerpt)

In my book, The Insider’s Guide to Media Training, I cover a lot of topics that are all part of the process to polish on-camera interviews.  Viewers will size you up quickly and since TV is a visual medium, you (or your client) need to make sure to look good on TV — and it’s not just about the message.

As you focus on your verbal delivery, mastering the art of conveying your unique knowledge with assurance and ease, you must at the same time never forget that your appearance is equally critical for success on television.  In this series of blog posts, I’m sharing a chapter from my book, so here is Looking Good on TV (Part One).

For any appearance on camera, you must take complete control over every detail of your personal appearance with appropriate wardrobe choices, professional makeup and hair, and a vocal delivery that exudes confidence. It’s all part of your on-camera package, and will even precede your message in making that first impression with a television audience ready to size you up in a matter of seconds.

Marianne Schwab being interviewed via Satellite on WPMT-TV, Fox43.

People shouldn’t judge you by your appearance, but they will. You’ve heard it said that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. When television viewers first see you on camera on their favorite TV talk show or in a newscast, they make an initial judgment in the first four seconds and that judgment is finalized largely within 30 seconds (or less). Everything contributing to the way you look on camera is important and if it’s not helping you, it’s, unfortunately, hurting you. A first impression can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo so you must set a favorable tone from the first moment viewers see and hear you.

Wardrobe Guidelines for On-Camera Talent

Your wardrobe choices are a major factor in controlling how you appear and appeal to viewers. As a producer, I have a keen sense of what clothes look best on camera and what clothes are a fashion disaster. A little wardrobe planning, including perhaps some professional guidance about what works and what doesn’t work on camera, can go a long way toward helping you craft a look that projects the confidence and trustworthiness needed to get your message through to viewers.

In order to choose the best wardrobe for your interviews, let’s take a general look at style, color, prints and pattern, fabric, jewelry, accessories, and shoes, and review some miscellaneous do’s and don’ts.

Style for Men and Women

You certainly want to make a good first impression with a quality wardrobe when you appear on camera, but that does not mean that you have to invest thousands of dollars in designer clothes. In fact, a few simple guidelines can lead to smart choices in quality garments that will make you look like a million bucks without investing a small fortune.

Style – Men. Whether you are a CEO, chef, or a Hollywood animal trainer, you should choose the right attire that fits your profession, position, and your company culture. Not all CEOs wear suits and not all animal trainers wear khaki shorts and even if you do, you should evaluate how that attire will look on camera and make adjustments to favorably portray your personal brand.

For most men in professional careers, a wwell-fittedsuit is an obvious choice. Black and dark blue suits work best and you will need to pay attention not just to the patterns and color of your shirt, but the tie as well. Avoid vests because they are outdated and tend to look a little stuffy on TV.

Men should have about an inch of their shirt cuff showing past their suit sleeves. Sometimes a trendy style may read well in certain situations, but it can look ridiculous on camera or simply not flatter you.

Style – Women. Women have many choices when it comes to fashionable attire but if you remember this simple rule, it’ll take you a long way: If it doesn’t flatter you, do not wear it. I don’t care if it’s the hottest new trend, do not wear it.

Lately, I’ve noticed a huge trend for female on-air personalities, hosts, and anchors to wear sleeveless dresses and blouses — even in the middle of winter. This can be a good look if your upper arms are toned and tanned, but it can be very unflattering if you do not work out or are a tad overweight. Also, you have to apply body makeup on your arms. Just because it’s trendy doesn’t mean you have to wear it.

I personally think that it’s better to dress with classic pieces that have timeless value. The investment you make in your wardrobe will go further as a result and you can think in terms of building on your wardrobe instead of replacing it the moment the fashion trends turn. Obviously, if your expertise is fashion, then you need to make a more personalized decision to reflect your profession, but for the “rest of us,” it’s best to find outfits that flatter what we have to work with. That said, one way to determine how to dress for your interview is to take note of what on-air talent tends to wear and modify it to your personal style and profession.

My next post? Tune in for Looking Good on TV – Part Two for what colors look best on TV and what colors to avoid.

Now, I have a special invitation for you to join me and my community of positive minded people in my Facebook Group to Grow Your Business with Video . I can’t wait to connect with you there.

Marianne Schwab is the author of The Insider’s Guide to Media Training and, as Content Creation Strategist, she is the go-to broadcast media expert to show you how to get booked on TV and ace your on-camera interview. Her producer credits include Live with Regis & Kathie Lee, Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, Runaway with the Rich & Famous, E! Entertainment Television ON E! Specials, and many more. She has worked in broadcast for over 25 years and is currently the Executive Producer for CMP Media Cafe, a company specializing in broadcast public relations where she provides customized media training services for clients.

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Copyright © 2019 by Marianne Schwab. All Rights Reserved.

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