In my hometown of
Kansas City, I do a regular TV segment on Wednesdays. During our noon
news, I speak on a parenting issue.
This assignment came
on the heels of an interview with the station's news anchor. She did a
feature on my toilet teaching audiotape. Then while on maternity leave,
she encountered the desperate lack of practical parenting on the news.
Upon her return to work she called to propose I do this weekly segment.
Although it's live,
I don't panic. Having appeared on network affiliated and cable programs
I feel somewhat competent. I am not a media expert but from experience
and feedback I am learning what works, what doesn't, what to do, and avoid.
For instance, one
week, my teenager counseled, Mom, don't wear white. But it's summer and
white is an appropriate choice, I countered. The camera already puts on
10 pounds and that white blouse will make you look even bigger, she explained.
I knew TV makes people look larger and I still wore white.
While reviewing the
clip of my segment I gasped in horror. My eyes watched as a well-coifed,
slender news anchor discussed parenting concerns with an intelligent,
puffy marshmallow. I knew it, still blew it, but learned through it. And
have never worn total white again.
Other on camera no-no's
are plaids and stripes. These minute patterns can wreak havoc on the tube.
It's best to wear solids in brown, blue, gray, or fuscha. Sound boring?
If you're a man you jazz up your suit with a rowdy tie. Women can add
lively accessories or a contrasting color. First Lady Laura Bush's inaugural
suit, of royal blue with black collar, was camera friendly.
Some colors look different
to home viewers. Navy blue often appears black, green can look yellow
or neon. I'm learning through review of clips which colors transpose.
Uncommon hues like purple are not taboo, just practice wearing a little
then watch a clip of your on air appearance to see how it appears.
With women, cosmetics
can be a blessing . . . or a blunder. For some reason, the camera removes
my top lip. So I take advantage of lip liner. In person, I probably look
like the former Tammy Faye Bakker but on camera I've a proportioned mouth.
If you tend to flush when nervous pat on extra foundation on face and
neck. Unless you're on a network program with a makeup artist for guests,
be careful what color you put on your face. Use caution with bright or
too much eye shadow remembering colors can turn.
Since studio lights
generate a great deal of heat, I wear more face powder than when speaking
from the platform. Most television personalities, even men, wear pancake
makeup. Its pasty consistency evens out facial disparities and absorbs
The good news is that
some minor flaws do not appear. The first time I met another station's
anchor I was surprised to see his teeth stains. On television his looked
pearly white. Unless it's a sustained head-shot, like the infamous Monica
Lewinsky interview, your unsightly details won't be detected. Spare yourself
Another instance of
humble learning took place recently. My teenager accompanied me to the
studio and sat off stage while I did my segment. I was feeling pretty
casual but forgot what I knew. I knew to sit erect. However, during the
entire three minute segment -- which is a good amount on TV -- I hunched
forward on the desk with full weight supported by my left arm. After the
segment I asked, How'd it look, Lynsey? Well, she hesitated, you leaned
on your arm and it made you look like a body builder. Besides that Mom,
she continued, it looked like you had part of your anatomy in a headlock.
Poise is extremely
important. I knew it and blew it. When the camera is on, sit straight
yet relaxed. A pillow behind the back can help. Some people sit on a telephone
If you naturally move
your hands while talking, go ahead, but avoid exaggerated gestures. Finally,
smile! Look at your interviewer or, if instructed, directly into the camera
and you'll project confidence.
Fortunately, the public
is forgiving or forgetful. Following my body builder episode the phone
rang with invitations to speak. Content must have overcome mistakes. Now
I hope you know it and don't blow it.
2001, Brenda Nixon