McLeod Media

You don’t need a script, just speak what you know

By Will Frampton
Owner and Director at McLeod Media

As we prepare for projects, an upcoming, on-camera interview is one of the main things people often get anxious over. For people who haven’t done interviews before, a natural inclination is to feel like they have to sound perfect and have every talking point down to a T.

And some people are just flat-out nervous. That’s a natural feeling, as on-camera interviews are unnatural for most people. Having a camera and lights in your face is akin to public speaking in front of a large audience, something that routinely comes up as one of the biggest fears of many people.

Some people even ask about teleprompters, or a script, for interviews. This is, in many, if not most cases, one of the worst things people can do to prepare for an interview.

Think about the concept of a script. First, you must memorize it; it doesn’t leave room for improvisation or speaking in a stream of consciousness. Suppose you are preoccupied with every last little detail of a script or talking points. In that case, you will have difficulty being authentic on camera unless you’re a trained actor.

There are some instances where a script is necessary. For example, we’ve seen government officials invited to speak at events. Every word they say to an audience has been pre-approved within their department, and they can’t stray from that. This is understandable.

But most of us have the freedom to be our authentic selves on camera and just speak what we know. We don’t need a script, or a teleprompter, because an interview is meant to be a conversational, on-camera exchange that brings out the best and most knowledgeable side of people.

Bullet points differ from a script

The good news about an interview is that, unlike public speaking, you get to converse with the person asking you questions. Suppose the interviewer is good at their job. In that case, they will be warm and engaging, guiding you into a natural rhythm of speaking about something you know and are passionate about. If things are really going well, you’ll forget you even have a camera and microphone on you. You’ll just … talk!

One step you can take if you’re uneasy about an upcoming interview is to think about three points you can speak on. Having a note card with those three bullet points is OK. A bullet point differs from a script – one line of information jogs you into speaking on a broader array of information. When you know your topic (which you will, otherwise, you wouldn’t be giving an interview on it), all you need is a set of talking points that can launch you into thoughtful, well-formed, confident answers.

During my 15 years of broadcast reporting, I spent most of that time being nervous about doing live shots during the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts (also at 5 in the morning). Even into my 30s, when I should have had the craft a little more in hand, I still had trouble slowing everything down and keeping it simple.

I often had to remind myself about the “three points” rule one of my mentors taught me during a college internship. Have the three things you want to say, say it, and get out of there.

The rule of threes. It holds up so well. So, think of three things you want to speak about and talk about them in advance with your production team or interviewer. They should have ideas on how to ask the questions around your talking points in a more conversational way that brings out your best. From those three points, I’m willing to bet you will find yourself getting “on a roll.” Before you know it, the interview will be 12-15 minutes long, and you’ll have lost track of time while giving excellent content on camera.

Also, a good production team will cut out your “ums” and “uhs” pauses and stumbles, so don’t worry. That’s what we’re here for, is to make you look and sound your best.

So remember: Unless it’s a scripted show, you don’t need a script or a teleprompter! Just speak what you know with passion and good energy, and you’ll be amazed at how much the camera loves you.