A TV Interview With Another Guest is Like Ballroom Dancing

When you’re invited to appear on a TV talk show you may be sharing the spotlight with another guest. That might be your co-author of a book, a celebrity new-product spokesperson, your business partner or a medical expert.

Once you get on television, the exchange between you and a second spokesperson needs to be choreographed, like ballroom dancing. A media trainer can help you to practice your routine until you’re totally in step.

You’re both there for your knowledge and experience. More often than not, the producer may pair you with an expert of his choice. The conversation should be balanced between the two of you. You want to appear as a dynamic, cohesive team. One person shouldn’t dominate the conversation; you both bring information and expertise to the interview.

Who’s Leading the Dance?

The spokespersons need to decide their roles in advance of the interview. This can be even more challenging if you have not met each other in advance. Be sure to set up a meeting, or a phone call, to determine:

  • Who is going to lead? That is, who is going to open the interview? Whoever opens the discussion should not be the “closer,” the guest making the last comment.
  • Who will discuss what? A reporter might very likely open the interview, “Tell me about your new product, (or book or movie)? This could be an awkward moment if you haven’t decided who will field that inevitable question.

Once you’ve divvied up the content in advance, when the interview begins, enthusiastically engage in a conversation with the host – and each other.

Your body language will say a lot about how the two of you connect. Smile and maintain eye contact with each other. Nod your head in agreement with what your colleague is saying. Don’t stare off into space as if you’ve never seen her before. Be “in the moment” and not thinking about what you’re going to say next.

Cross your legs toward each other to appear engaged with each other. While your colleague is talking remain attentive to the conversation. While one camera may be focusing on her, another may be zooming in on your face for reactions.

How to Bridge From One to Another

You know your assigned parts, but the interviewer doesn’t. If he asks you a question for which your colleague had prepared the answer, then bridge to her with something like, “That’s another interesting perspective, and I’m going to let Jane answer that one.” It will sound natural when you appear truly engaged in a conversation.

These two videos exemplify interviews in which it’s clear to PR experts that the guests were well media trained. This mother and daughter team, who wrote a book about leadership, How Great Women Lead, clearly care for each other.

Note how Bonnie St. John clasps her daughter Darcy Deane’s hand at the very beginning of the interview. They look and smile at each other throughout, and Darcy nods her head in affirmation of her mother’s comments.  They look great on air and carefully chose to wear colors that complimented each other.

How Great Women Lead

In this video, New York Times correspondent David Rohde and his wife, Kristen Mulvihill, discuss his captivity by the Taliban in Afghanistan. In their book, A Rope and a Prayer: A Kidnapping from Two Sides, they talk about how she negotiated for his freedom before he finally escaped after being imprisoned for seven months.

His shoulders are pointed towards her and her leg is crossed toward him. They smile and show obvious affection towards each other.

A Rope and A Prayer

Well, you could say you’d expect a mother-daughter, and husband-wife to be comfortable with each other.

But rest assured, they worked hard to make it look so easy.

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