Looking and feeling your best is important when it comes to having a successful TV appearance. After all, if you know how to look great on camera, that confidence will come through when you’re speaking about your company and products.
Check out our TV appearance tips below for some must-have insider secrets on everything from what not to wear and how to best highlight your products.
What to Wear
Yes, appearance matters. TV viewers will make snap judgments about you based on how you look. It’s a fact of life. Embrace it. Work it.
Look the Part
Clothing should be fitted, not frumpy, and pressed and wrinkle-free. Jodie Heisner of BottomLine Media Coaching recommends a business casual look for both men and women. “Steer clear of anything flowing, baggy, or oversized,” she says. An outfit that is fitted — not tight — streamlines your appearance.
Ladies, a tailored-yet-stylish jacket is your safest bet. Opt for solid, pastel colors and stay away from white and deep black.
Blues and neutral tones are preferable but study the set colors and what the hosts or newscasters wear and adjust accordingly. Finally, avoid flashy or sparkly jewelry and opt instead for a tasteful statement piece like a solid-colored bracelet or necklace that flatters your neckline.
Gents, a navy sports jacket over a classic-fit button-down shirt will do the trick in most cases. Stay away from pinstripes, checkered, and other busy designs because the camera can do funky things to patterns.
As an example, here’s an early segment I did on a morning lifestyle show in Phoenix. How many rules did I break? The camera lights up my white skirt, my blouse is sloppy, and I have a ginormous necklace. Urgh.
Here’s a more recent segment where I learned my lesson. The navy blue works much better with the set and I’ve learned to go easy on the jewelry.
Hair and Makeup
As for makeup, ladies, you’ll want to take your foundation and eye makeup up a notch. Eyes have a tendency to disappear on camera.
If you’re not confident in the makeup area, stop by a department store makeup counter and get professional help (I recommend Bobbi Brown for a natural yet camera-finished look).
Take face powder or oil-control blotting papers with you to the set (you too, guys) to touch up any shiny spots that pop up during setup.
I also recommend a professional manicure for both men and women. Ladies, go with a neutral, clean look. An opaque polish in a soft pink looks great on camera and hides any grit you get under your nails during setup.
Guys, a clean, close shave is a must. Pat on moisturizer after your shave and brush on a light coat of face powder. Colorescience makes a neutral mineral powder that hides shine (and it’s not girly, I promise!).
Ladies, I can’t say enough for the power of professional blowout. As shown in the first example, the wall of hair blocking my eyes is not a good look. Request volume at the crown and a polished look that keeps your hair away from your face. Hairspray is your friend.
Bottom line: Avoid wearing anything distracting, don’t let ‘em see you sweat and put extra effort into your hair and makeup.
While the segment isn’t entirely about you — it’s about your amazing business — you are now the face and voice of your company. Shoot for a look that says confident, approachable, neat and professional.
Set the Stage
Now that you look the part, let’s talk merch. Above all else, your goal is to educate viewers on what you sell and what makes your products awesome. Your visual display should be attractive yet simple and uncluttered.
Most television studios have side set tables that are usually about waist high. You may be offered a high-top round table or a coffee table. Watch the show ahead of time to make sure you know what you might be working from.
Do a dry run of your display at home on a kitchen or office table. Balance the items and vary the heights. Make sure your items are facing out to the camera and not up at the ceiling. Don’t build displays so high that you and the host can’t see around them.
Your visuals will, of course, depend on your product. Some ideas:
- If you sell jewelry, you’ll want to invest in at least three jewelry display stands to show off your best and brightest pieces. You can drape a few pieces across the set table too. You might offer the host a piece to wear during the segment as well.
- If you sell baked goods, by all means, bring in your pretty cakes and pies and display them on various-sized stands, but also have bite-sized samples ready to go so the host can ooh and aah over your delicious creations.
- If you sell apparel, discuss the possibility with the producer of having models dressed head to toe in your wares.
- If that’s not an option, consider adding a bit of seasonal flair to your display. For example, for fall segments, add two or three mini pumpkins and a few fall leaves to your display. Don’t go crazy. Think tasteful.
This segment, for example, was on summer skincare so I added a beach ball and flip-flops to the display to give it a bit of seasonal flair.
Also, note the acrylic displays that I used. If you are displaying small items, they are worth the investment. I also bring my own table covering (not just because I like pink) but because I’ve been caught on a few occasions without one and had to wait for the previous guest to break down before I could set up. Bring your own cloth so you’re ready to go on a moment’s notice.
Practice, Practice, Practice. And Smile. (A Lot.)
You’re almost there. Now for my little secret: I practice talking through my segment until I’m sick of hearing myself talk. When I’m sick of it, I know I’ve got it.
I memorize my main segment points. I run through what I want to say in the shower and about three times on my way to the station. I time myself.
I have prices, stores, tips and everything that could be thrown at me in my head. I even have my opening line already to go when the host throws to me.
Why all the prep? Because if you happen to catch a glimpse of yourself on the monitor or you simply panic when the camera turns to you, all hell can break loose in your head. I know. It’s happened to me.
Or, the host may decide to ask you a totally off-the-wall question. Yes, they do that. So the more tip-of-the-tongue accessible your points are, the less you can get thrown off course.
Once you have your segment points down, practice again but this time, smile all the way through it. Focus on smiling with your eyes.
I learned this trick from an experienced broadcast journalist who was helping me tape a radio promo. She told me to smile with my eyes because it keeps your voice upbeat and friendly.
I’ve made a lot of funny faces on live TV so I also practice keeping my face calm. Eyes smiling, face relaxed. Otherwise, this face could happen to you on live TV too. (Sigh.)
That’s it! When the camera turns to you, just remember that this is your opportunity to share your message through the power of television. Keep calm and shine.