So you’re going to be on TV? 16 things you need to know!

So you’re going to be on TV? 16 things you need to know!

This week I was lucky enough to snitch a spot on Channel 9’s Today Show. It’s not the first time I’ve been on TV. Actually I’ve been wracking my brain when people have asked me if I have been on TV before, and if so, how many times. I’d guess about a dozen in the past 20 years for one reason or another.

TV, and in particular live TV (which much of it is live unless you’re an actor who has the luxury of doing takes) is very unforgiving in that you only have a few minutes of fame to what is generally a very BIG audience, so best you make it count!

Here are a few tips I have from my TV experiences, ready for you to put into practice next time you get the TV call up, or to share with a friend or family member who is about to be on TV…


1. Get to know the show

You may or may not have a few weeks or in some cases only a few days before you get a call to be on the show. Whatever is, best you become intimately familiar with the show. Make sure you know the general format, the names of the key presenters, the types of stories they cover, etc.

2. Find all your social channels and hash tags

Most media outlets are very social media savvy these days and will have established social networks. Find out what the handles (social usernames) are for the actual show and any of the key personalities on the show by going to Google and searching ‘{Show Name} on {Social Network}.


“Today Show Australia on Twitter”


“Today Show Australia on Instagram”

Start liking and following their accounts if you haven’t done so already, and get a feel for what they tend to post about.

Also note any hashtags they use.

For instance in the case of Today Show one of their hashtags is #iwakeupwithtoday.


3. Increase your website hosting

Appearances on national television shows can put your website traffic through the roof, and if you’re on a cheap, basic plan, your website hosting may not be up to scratch, and at worst may crash, which I’ve seen happen before, not for my own appearances but for campaigns I’ve been involved in.

I’d therefore recommend always planning ahead, and increasing your hosting plan to something you are confident will be suitable for potential spikes in traffic.

In my case, prior to my Today Show appearance I increased my standard cPanel hosting of my site to Enterprise Level.

Fortunately I’m a reseller of hosting so this wasn’t difficult and didn’t cost me an arm and a leg. I simply logged into my reseller account, and upped the plan.

If you need this service, see our hosting plans here.

4. Consider what you’ll say

I don’t mean prepare an entire speech. You’re going on air probably because you’re an expert on something or you’ve had an experience and the WORST thing you can do is over rehearse it. You know your stuff and you can speak from the heart (and authentic is always good).

However it doesn’t hurt to consider what are the 3-5 key messages you really WANT to get across during your time on air. That is, the points that if you get off at the end and go ‘Doh! I should have said that!’ you’ll be completely miffed by. Go on. Write them down now.

Also check any key stats, facts or figures for accuracy. Know your sources. You may be asked, and you want to sound informed.

5. Consider what you’ll wear

You may like your sparkles, spots or stripes but these are BAD choices when it comes to TV. Patterns like these can ‘dance’ on cameras so opt for block colours, with low key jewellery.

Also wear something you will be comfortable in. Don’t for instance dress in a suit if you’ve never worn one in your life.

Consider what is the brand you want to project to the world. What is You.Inc? Are you a bright and bubbly kind of person or a gentle and pastel kind of person?

Also consider the target market you are appealing to in the segment. In my case it was influencers of children such as parents, so I wanted to appear fun, colourful, approachable. Not stiff, or corporate.

6. Ask what time they want you at the studio

You may be given a time that you will be appearing on the show, but what time do they actually want you at the studio? It is clear you establish this in your early dealings with your contact at the station so you can factor this into your schedule.

7. Ask if they will do your hair and make-up

Generally speaking TV shows will offer to do your hair and makeup, and blokes, yes even a touch of foundation or powder won’t kill you! I would however recommend having your back up makeup and a comb or brush in your bag that you travel to the station with, as I did have a nightmare earlier this year when I was asked to come into feature on a national news program early of a Sunday morning.

I was told to come in early for hair and make up, arrived having only put a brush through my hair and a splash of lippy. When I was told to ‘come through’ I presumed this was for hair and make up, and was pretty perturbed when I was ushered to a stool live on set, next to the two news presenters and then within seconds the cameraman was announcing ‘and we’re rolling!’

As any girl reading this would appreciate, telling you to arrive for hair and makeup and then getting ushered onto national television without any on at all is a cardinal sin!

Fortunately I’m not too precious and just rolled with the punches in this case, launching straight into my ‘oh my god-I-don’t-have-makeup-on-but-just-make-sure-what-you-say-is-good-face’ which my friends and family convinced me they didn’t notice. (I certainly hope so!)

8. Angle for a ride

You will generally have to pick up any expenses incurred for the TV appearance yourself. Don’t expect free flights or hotel rooms if you have to travel from another destination to feature on TV. You are not a rockstar…yet!

In this way, you do have to weigh up whether the coverage is likely to justify any expenses you will incur in the process but generally speaking national TV exposure is the best kind of mass exposure you can have, so it’s always worth the gamble.

What you can however ask for (but not expect) is a ride to and from the studio. Most TV shows have dedicated drivers who run their guests to and from hotels and their homes each and every day. These cabbies tend to be interesting people as they meet everyone from celebrities to brainiacs and wack jobs, so get them talking, and they’ll be sure to tell you a few stories. So simply ask the person you are liaising with at the station in the lead up whether a ride is possible. As they will know the distance times at the destination, get them to elect a pick up time.


9. Get up, well before you get picked up

I’m not much of a morning person so getting up early is always a struggle, but I would recommend getting up AT LEAST 1 hour before your pick up time, which may be quite early if you are on a morning show.

Once you are up and showered, make sure you have a hot drink to warm your vocal cords up. Also try to talk to some people to get out any ‘cobwebs’ which may have crept in over night.

If you are unlikely to interact with other humans before your pick up time, sing in the shower, talk to yourself in your hotel room, or do some vocal exercises.

You may feel like a dork but better this then a croaky voice on air!

Also have something light to eat to take away any tummy growls and make sure you go to the loo before you go and don’t drink too much water! You don’t want to be squirming in your seat!

10. Catch some of the show before you head in

Switch the show on that you will be on, if it is an early morning show and see what the presenters are wearing and what news is breaking.

Could any of these news stories be topical items you could reference in your piece? Topical is generally good (provided you can still cover your key points!)

For instance there was a lot of mention of it being the first day of school holidays on the day I was on, so I picked up and ran with this in my talk also.

Note if it a special day such as Anzac Day or Daffodil Day. You might like to join in by picking yourself up a poppy on the way in, or at least being mindful of this being the case.

11. Get someone to monitor your website

As aforementioned, your website can go down due to spikes in traffic from your TV appearance if not handled carefully. Get someone to keep an eye on it, by hitting refresh throughout the segment and for a little bit after its run and be ready to hit the panic button i.e. call the web hosts should the worst happen, and demand its quick resurrection!

12. Make friends with the receptionist

Guess who people ring when they just miss the book you are talking about on air or the website you are spruiking, or someone tells them about it but can’t remember the name? That’s right — the receptionist!

It’s therefore a good idea to let the receptionist know on arrival that you’re at the studio to go on air, mention which show, and give them the web address for whatever it is you are promoting in case anyone calls up.

Trust me, this may sound a bit salesy bit you’re actually making the receptionists job easier. Rather than saying ‘sorry I don’ t know it’, or having to go Googling for it when people call and risking giving out the wrong one, you are giving them information before they even need it.

The exact words I used this morning so as not to sound like a complete diva were:

“Just in case people call in after I am on air, do you mind if I give you the web address for my book? It’s I know that will make your job easier!”

This morning the receptionist smiled back warmly and agreed ‘Yes it will! Thanks!” Not every body thinks of this, so they are impressed when you do.

13. When they say go to the ‘green room’, don’t go looking for a green room!

Having been in TV studios before I know there is often no such thing as a ‘green room’ and as such you should never go looking for one. This morning, once again I smiled to myself as I entered the ‘green room’ which is the room all guests are encouraged to hang out in after hair and makeup, noting that once again, there was not a patch of green in the room. So calling all newbies to TV — don’t go looking for an actual green room! It could be any colour of room, but will generally have a sign saying ‘green room’ or simply be referred to as ‘the green room’.

Expect in the green room an assortment of hot drinks and cold, sometimes alcohol, always caffeine, and if you’re lucky, snacks you can help yourselves too also.

14. Try not to get star struck

Some TV personalities have huge followings, and you may or may not be the type of person who gets dumfounded by seeing them in the flesh. Personally I don’t, after all, I figure they’re a human just the same as you or I. They just happen to have a really awesome day job!

If you’re bold enough on meeting them, ask them for a quick snap or selfie (but always ask and be respectful of the fact that you are probably one of several hundred people who do this to them in a day or week).

15. Sit comfortably

Once you are ushered on ‘set’, that is, the place in front of the cameras where you will be speaking, you may be required to sit on a stool or couch.

Try and make yourself as comfortable as you can before you go live — you will normally have a minute or two to do this.

Sit towards the back of the chair rather than perched on the edge. Consider placement of hands (try and find a relaxed pose) and adjust any bunching that may occur in your clothing. Consider your posture, and ladies if you’re wearing a skirt, consider how you cross your legs!


16. Leverage the hell out of the whole experience

Let people know where you’ve been and who you’ve been with! Take as many behind the scenes snaps as you can without being perceived as an out of control tourist, and then share them with your social networks for all to see.…  I love combining my snap with some Wordart using apps such as Pic Monkey, Word Swag or Over now and then as they size social graphics beautifully and make you look like a real pro.

I hope you got a lot out of my 16 ‘So You’re Going To Be On TV’ Tips.

Here are some snaps from my experience to see how much fun I had. Hopefully I get to do it again soon (and hopefully you do too!)