TV and other broadcast interviews – What to do when you feel nervous in front of the camera

It’s been a while since we had an extract from The Beginner’s Guide to TV Interviews, so here’s another one to add to your collection.

It’s all about what to do when you’re experiencing pre-show nerves.

What to do if You Feel Nervous About Your TV Interview

Congratulate yourself – you’re a human being with feelings after all.  It is absolutely 100% normal to feel a nervous surge of adrenaline before you do a TV interview.  Even TV presenters who have appeared on screen every day for years and years still regularly get the jangles.

One of the things that used to amaze me when I was working in TV was seeing some of the most famous faces in the land chain-smoking and practically throwing up with nerves before doing a simple TV appearance to plug their latest venture.

Actors are especially prone to interview nerves, which can be surprising because you’d think that they’re trained to perform.  But whilst that’s true, remember that they’re trained to speak other people’s words and can often feel on shaky ground when they’re asked to appear as themselves, with no script.

An actor once told me that daytime talk shows are particularly nerve-wracking for his profession, because that’s what they all watch when they’re ‘resting’ between jobs.  He knew all his mates were likely to be scrutinising his performance when he was on This Morning.

Personally, I think it’s kind of comforting to know that even big names get the collywobbles.  Think about that the next time you watch someone being interviewed on TV – 5 minutes beforehand they were probably a gibbering wreck in the green room

The kinds of things I’ve seen people use to conquer their TV nerves include:
• Alcohol – not as in getting blind drunk, though some do indulge in a discreet tot of brandy from a hip flask.  Probably not a good idea for the morning shows though.
• Cigarettes
• Bach Rescue Remedy
• Nail biting
• Caffeine
• Arguing with partners/agents/production crew
• Deep breathing
• Repeated visits to the toilet
• Illegal Drugs
• Walking up and down in the corridor repeatedly
• Rehearsing what they want to say

In truth, none of these responses is the definitive one, and I’m certainly not recommending that you take up booze and fags simply to make the passage into TV stardom a little easier.  But one of the most useful things you can do to prepare yourself for TV interviews is to take some time now to know yourself and how you best deal with nerves.

One great book that will help you with this is Susan Jeffers’ classic Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway – I recommend reading this book if nerves are the only thing stopping you from going for TV success.  And even if you never read it, the title alone is a great mantra to carry with you.

Remember that your nerves will always be more apparent to you than anyone else.  They will see a gliding swan, no matter how madly the legs are kicking underneath.

(c) Joanne Mallon 2008-2016