Media training Top Tips - Why TV interviews mean not waving

By Roz Morris, Managing Director, TV News London Ltd

We’ve seen a lot of waving recently. The royal wedding in Windsor means thousands of people have been waving at the royal couple, and even the tiny tots like that budding star, three-year-old Princess Charlotte, have been waving at the crowds. Prince Harry and Meghan with a TV audience of nearly two billion, have done more waving in one day than the rest of us probably do in a lifetime.

All of which is great for royal weddings. But if you get the chance to be on TV it’s really important that you give up waving your hands around  Why? Because giving a TV interview is different from delivering a talk or a presentation where you can wave your hands around for emphasis and so help to keep people’s attention on you. 

You already have the attention of the audience

The difference is that when you’re on TV, you’ve already got the audience’s attention. You’re there on screen in a tight shot and they are looking at you.  If you start to wave your hands around near your face this will distract the audience from what you are saying. They will start to look for your hands coming into shot. They won’t be following your very important points that you are trying to get across to them.

And that’s going to make it difficult for you to make your messages memorable, whether in a TV interview or in a video.

What should you do with your hands during a TV interview?

Now I’m a great hand waver when I’m talking, but not on TV. It really  isn’t a good idea. The audience will be getting confusing hand signals instead of concentrating on listening to what you’re saying.  So what should you do to keep your hands out of shot?

Don't clench your hands because that will make your shoulders tense, and then you will look worried and tense and you don't want to do that either. Plus don’t cling on to the chair you’re sitting on because that will raise your tension level and your shoulders and the audience will read your body language as a bit desperate.  

You have to work out what works best for you in terms of where you put your hands. My advice is to put your hands in your lap just with one hand on top of the other, and then keep both hands still and resist any temptation to raise them and indulge in any handwaving. For some people this is hard and needs practice. But it’s the only way and if you have to work at it, then recognise this and get practising being able to talk without using your hands.

Some celebs do wave their hands around

Yes I know there are some celebs who do a lot of handwaving.  But just remember you’re not a celebrity. The big difference between them and you is that you are a humble spokesperson with a tight shot. They have a wider shot and they can inject more personality into what they say on screen. So if you want to learn how to use hand waving effectively come back to me when you’ve got your own show.

In the meantime ….

Make sure that whenever you do an interview on TV or for a video, you always keep your hands out of shot. Make people focus on your face and your content. Put animation and positivity into your face. That’s how you hold the audience’s attention. With handwaving you lose it.

Watch Roz's Top Tips Video Below:


Published 24 May 2018


Sainsburys boss forgets basic media training advice

By Roz Morris, Managing Director, TV News London Ltd

You’re never too big to be reminded of the basics. That must be the conclusion of astonished TV news viewers when they saw the boss of Sainsburys Mike Coupe happily singing ‘ We’re in the money. The sky is sunny, let's lend it, spend it, send it rolling along," while waiting to be interviewed about the proposed merger of Sainsburys and Asda.

No matter how many TV interviews you’ve done – no matter how you’re a top boss and becoming even topper as the intended head of the proposed largest supermarket business in the UK – our media training advice is always the same. Don’t say or do anything in a TV studio that you don’t want to be broadcast.  It really is Media Training 101.

News reporters were pinching themselves that they were so lucky. Not only did a mega boss look a bit silly by singing a song  – but – unquestionably a big Freudian slip- up – the words were just so deliciously appropriate for one of the biggest UK business stories ever.

From Mr Coupe’s point of view it was bad enough to be seen to be singing anything at all. But to pick that particular song – it’s from the musical 42nd Street – just clinched his fate. There was no way the news bulletins were not going to pick up on what he called ‘an unguarded moment’ during a twelve billion pound deal. Later he even solemnly apologised in case he had given offence.

"This was an unguarded moment trying to compose myself before a TV interview," he said. "It was an unfortunate choice of song, from the musical 42nd Street which I saw last year and I apologise if I have offended anyone."

But this apology rather misses the point.  What his ‘unguarded moment’ did was to make him look a bit stupid and possibly also greedy and generally to undermine and trivialise discussion of a very serious day for Sainsburys and Asda and their more than 330,000 employees.

It broke the spell of authority which TV interviews are supposed to provide, despite the fact that shareholders will be happy that shares have shot up.

And of course this little TV moment will never really go away. Interviewers will even now be preparing to ask Mr Coupe a few months from now:  ‘So are you still in the money Mr Coupe? Are things still sunny? Was this merger really such a good idea?’ etc. etc.. I bet he can’t wait!

Published 01 May 2018