Television Interviewing for Doctors Part One- How to Navigate your Way on the Set.

Television Interviewing for Doctors Part One- How to Navigate your Way on the Set.

You want your appearance and performance to reflect positively and not take away from your message.

Author: Robert A Felberg MD

Topic: Media Interviewing for Physician

Keyword: Media training, Doctor television interview, what to wear for tv interview, tips for television interview

You’ve been invited to participate in a television or video interview. You’re excited to get your educational message out to a large audience and increase your visibility to potential patients and referring physicians. At the same time, you’re a bit nervous. Sure, you feel comfortable speaking to your patients, their families, and maybe even to large groups in a public speaking setting. But, this is different- the stakes seem higher with the potential for a large audience.

[Editor Note: There are lots of great doctors out there. But, some are more respected, well known, or successful than others.  Chances are, that successful physician has excellent professional and medical business skills like negotiation, networking, or public speaking that they leveraged to accelerate their careers. This post is one of a continuing series from Physician Advocates LLC discussing often overlooked skillsets that Healthcare Professionals can utilize to grow their careers.]

Being a little anxious is natural, but with some proper planning you’ll have a great chance of acing your television interview. This post is the first of a series. In the others posts we’ll work on dressing for the interview and crafting your message. In this post I’ll discuss some of the technical aspects of a video shoot.

First things first- there will usually be 4 or 5 different roles being performed on the site. Some people may have multiple roles, so some crews may be larger than others. Be certain to bring a business card and the first page of your CV. They’ll need the proper spelling of your name, a clear description of your title, and some information about your hospital or practice. Since things move fast and on a tight deadline, they’ll need a cell number, office number, landline, and your official and personal email address for and last-minute issues. Be responsive.  You don’t want your name mis-spelled, the wrong specialty listed, or your cross-town competition credited with your work.

The first person you’ll want to track down is the shoot director. The director is the “boss” on the set. They make the final decisions and keep the crew on track. They’ll often have dual roles behind the camera or as the interviewer. Sometimes they’ll clearly be in charge and “bark” out orders. Other times, they may have a more collaborative vibe. Introduce yourself and ask them for a “rundown” of how the day’s events will happen. Be sure to ask any questions that come to mind, especially if you don’t understand the jargon. Ask about the need to do any “establishing shots” or “B-Rolls/B-Reels”- these are the action scenes they show of doctors and nurses walking in hallway or looking at an x-ray and add to the flow of the interview. Do your best to follow their instructions. The media creation business is hard and your cooperation will be truly appreciated.

The next stop is the sound team. Ask the sound team to “mike” you. This will involve some touching. Women in particular may need to have wires, etc. run under dresses or around the collar, often near the bra line. You may need to unbutton or remove clothing and then redress. Keep this in mind as you dress (more on this in later posts. Please sign up for our newsletter). If you have particular concerns, it’s best to speak to the interview crew beforehand rather than raising the issue on-set.   Ask for a sound check.   You may need multiple sound checks. The sound check will allow the team to know the proper volume for your voice, so try to speak as naturally as possible.

The camera and lighting team is next. They’ll advise where to sit or stand.   Ask them for a “mark” on the floor.   They’ll place some tape so you’ll know where to stand.   Unless told otherwise, you’ll want to stand on that spot and move as little as possible.   I like to use a “t-stance” with my left foot facing forward and my right foot perpendicular so that the heel of my left foot meets the right mid-arch. Standing with both feet forward can look aggressive- like you are ready to “pounce”. The camera team will spend what seems like a long period of time moving props, combing down stray hairs, and changing the lighting. It will seem like they are just about done and then they’ll get a glare off a window and start again. Be a good sport. They are just trying their best to make you look your best.

If they will expect you to move or walk during the interview, ask them to show you the route. Walk it a several times with them until you feel comfortable. Look for potential trip or fall hazards and have the team remove them. You’ll be focusing on the interview and could easily trip on even the most obvious obstacles.  Be especially aware of fall hazards off stages or pathways. If it feels unsafe, ask them to change the plan- you want to avoid starring in a you-tube “epic fail” video.

Finally, you’ll want to spend some time with the person doing the interview. Ask them where they’ll stand and where they would like you to look during the interview. Find out what questions they will ask. Do they read from a script? Will they come up with questions on the spot? Is there anything in particular they want you to cover?  Sometimes, they’ll be at another studio and you’ll be speaking into a camera.

At last, you’ll be ready to start the actual filming interview. There are a few things you’ll want to clarify before you start. Will this be a live interview? Will there be an opportunity to re-shoot any mistakes? Will there be a cue when you go live? Will there be a delay from the time you answer to the time the interviewer can hear you-  you may need to be patient to allow the interviewer to finish their statement and be clear when you are done speaking.

Next time, I’ll discuss the best way to dress for the interview. Following that in part three we’ll go into how to develop your message and effectively get your point across. Part four will review public speaking techniques that will help you communicate with your audience.

Media Interviewing can be a valuable skill in improving the health of your community, building brand awareness, and driving market share. Along with other professional and medical business skills, mastering media interactions can go a long way towards attaining your career goals. Improve your public speaking skills, build your brand image, and consider joining us for our CME approved professional skills seminar for physicians. With practice, study, and proper training you can achieve your dreams and succeed… really succeed.

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So what do you think? Are you nervous in front of the camera? Are you a born TV doctor? Any hints? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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