6 tips to perform your best on live television

6 tips to perform your best on live television

Public speaking or any type of on-camera interviewing, hosting, or presenting can be anxiety-inducing. But nothing compares to the palm-sweating, heart-racing, voice-stuttering elements of the ever-so-unpredictable live television appearance.

As someone who’s had their fair share of on-air experience, one would think I’ve grown accustomed to an intimidating studio environment. The reality is that I still get just as terrified as the first time and go into most segments with a sleepless night and a prescription for propranolol.

That said, all hope is not lost for those who shudder at the idea of speaking eloquently to an invisible audience (which can sometimes be in the millions). After all, the subsequent high and feeling of accomplishment is worth the torture alone, which is why I continue to subject myself to it on a monthly basis.

So I’ve rounded up six of my top tips to make live broadcast appearances feel just a little bit easier. Because a little bit really does go a long way when your body feels like it’s one deep breath away from a full-blown panic attack.

perform on live television

1. Practice, practice, practice

Practicing is a no-brainer, but I write out a loose script and run through it at least 10 to 15 times a day, starting a few days before the segment. Does it ever come out verbatim? Absolutely not. And frankly, you wouldn’t want it to — there needs to be room for ad-libbing and answering off-the-cuff questions. But you do need to have a solid grasp of everything you need and want to say within such a short period of time. This will help with the flow and ensure there aren’t any awkward lulls.

2. Memorize a few safety sentences

In the rare instance when you may be asked a question to something you don’t know, you should always have a canned response. For example, I frequently do shopping segments and a host may ask for a specific price that I haven’t memorized. A quick reply of “you can find all product information on Today.com” always suffices without sacrificing my legitimacy as an expert. These are the quick, go-to lines that will ensure you’re one step ahead and not caught off guard.

live tv tips

3. Arrive early

The last thing you need to do on the day of your segment is add more stress to your plate. You’ll likely run through the motions of eating a good breakfast and partaking in a solid skincare routine, but be sure to leave enough time for you to get to the studio early. This will allow you to gather yourself before going on set, practice breathing exercises, and remain cool, calm, and collected until showtime. If you’re thrust in front of the spotlight without having a chance to relax, the excess adrenaline may show itself in the form of jitters, voice cracks, and sweat beads.

4. Wear something comfortable

I am admittedly a bit superstitious when it comes to TV appearances and always opt for a snazzy blazer, but you should always wear something that is not only comfortable, but also makes you feel your most confident. When you look your best and put effort into your outfit, this will be relayed on the small screen. Be sure to shop and/or pick out your complete look before segment day because you don’t want to be scrambling and add more of the aforementioned stress to your day.

live television tips

5. Consider beta blockers

It may be the actual medication or it may be a placebo effect. Either way, I don’t care. I’ve found that taking 15 mg of propranolol an hour before I go on set has quelled the physical symptoms of my anxiety. And while it’s by no means a miracle worker, I don’t have to surrender to labored breathing, balmy palms, and shaky limbs that are nearly impossible to control. Pro tip: Test the dosage prior to your segment by popping a pill before a high-stress situation. You don’t want to take too much the first time and come across as a walking zombie who is going through the motions and is void of personality.

6. Be grateful and take time to reflect

The high you’ll feel after finishing is unlike anything you may have experienced before. You’ll emerge thinking you’re the most important person in the room and that you deserve nothing short of the world after putting so much time and effort into something that proved to be a success. But it’s important to stay humble and remember that you were invited to appear on someone else’s show and not your own. Extend all the thank yous you can muster…and not just to booking producers and hosts, but also camera and sound crews, stage managers, green room greeters, and basically anyone involved with production. People who share a workspace talk, as we know, and an upbeat, gracious attitude will be remembered just as much as being well-spoken and natural on camera. If you charm them on top of doing a great job, well, you’ve practically hit the jackpot and they’ll be eager to invite you back in no time at all. And then you can run through these six steps all over again because nerves never go away — they simply become more manageable.

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