12 Tips for CEOs Making Their First TV Appearance

What’s one tip you have for a startup founder who is making their first TV appearance as an expert?

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

1. Smile

People are often so nervous or intimidated that they forget to smile. Remember that you love your company, you are excited by your field and you especially love sharing your passion! Smiling when the host introduces you or thanks you is a must. Not only does it make you relax, but viewers will find you more appealing. Just look natural — no one wants to see a resurrection of the Joker.

- Kim Kaupe, ‘ZinePak

2. Slow Down

The majority of people speak too quickly, even when they are not on TV. When broadcast, it comes across even more. Speak slowly, use pauses for effect and fully pronounce every word in order to make sure your message gets conveyed effectively. Your audience will also perceive you as being more confident.

- Richard Lorenzen, Fifth Avenue Brands

3. Speak Concisely

Nothing is worse than filler words like “uh,” “um,” and “well.” You get the point. Cutting out these extra mumbles will help keep your answers focused and relevant.

- Anson Sowby, Rocket XL

4. Be Yourself

People connect with people, so be your real self. You’re better off showing that you’re vulnerable than coming off as fake. You should also be confident. You are the domain expert. Remember that no one knows more about your product — or whatever you are appearing to speak about — than you, or else they would have invited someone else to appear.

- Lauren Friese, TalentEgg

5. Play the Professor

We always taught our clients to be professorial when they did media interviews. You are there to educate the audience on something new that they are interested in. Like teaching a student, make sure to break it down in a simple way they can understand so they leave with a feeling that they learned something. Just because it makes sense to you doesn’t mean someone else gets it.

- Trace Cohen, Launch.it

6. Practice With an Audience

The best way to combat nervousness is to be prepared. Write a script for yourself; practice what you’re saying and how you say it. Play out how the appearance will go and practice that flow. Practice in front of others. When you arrive for your TV appearance, you will have prepared remarks as a foundation for improvising. You can go with the flow and insert your prepared answers where they fit.

- Kyle Clayton, Jackrabbit Janitorial

7. Be Cautious

Know that the person asking the questions is not your friend. He is in the business of attracting viewers or readers — so the more outrageous, the better. He is looking for a “sound bite.” You want to provide something memorable, but be careful with your answers. Make sure the “sound bite” you leave him with is one that makes you and your company shine.

- Eric Holtzclaw, Laddering Works

8. Work With a Coach

Even experienced speakers work with coaches before big appearances. If you’re talking on TV for the first time, consult with an expert who can help tweak your style to fit the TV format better. As an added benefit, this approach forces you to practice and get feedback. These are both good habits for a speaker to acquire.

- Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting

9. Focus on One Takeaway

Being on TV is nerve-wracking — more so when you have a lot to say! Try to focus on one simple takeaway that you want to get across. As long as you nail that one point crisply, everything else will be fine.

- Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

10. Speak in Sound Bites

TV is a medium that favors short sound bites. Providing commentary that is short and snappy will help you stay within the allotted time of the appearance and will help the audience grasp your expert advice easily.

- Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

11. Relax

To calm your nerves beforehand, remember it’s simply a recorded conversation. You do hundreds of one-on-one talks a year. So don’t freak out about it like you might with your first big speech — a totally unnatural construct for most. Relax, and the cameras will be off before you know it.

- Neil Thanedar, LabDoor

12. Get the Questions First

If you can’t get the questions first for whatever reason, still use your prepared 10- to 15-second statements. When you are asked a question, you don’t want to answer directly because you have something else to say. Rather, acknowledge it and then smoothly transition into what your next point was supposed to be, per your prepared statements. This is better than speaking off the cuff.

- Michael Costigan, Michael Costigan, LLC

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