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How to Dress for a Television Appearance

Article by Jonathan Henderson

One of the most daunting aspects of PR work is appearing on television. And yet for many businessmen and women, there comes a time when making a TV appearance becomes essential, either to counter negative publicity or to take advantage of the massive publicity benefits appearing on TV can bring.

In this article I will therefore reveal some basic principles of dressing for television, to ensure that you create a good first impression with both interviewers and the TV audience.

When undertaking TV interviews the way you are dressed and your composure are extremely important. Radio interviews are obviously a lot less concerned about the way you look, but it is still a good idea to look your best, both for your own self-confidence and to make a good impression on your interviewer.

While your self-employed daily life may be the perfect forum in which to exhibit your flair for the latest in fashion style, a TV interview is not the place to do this. With very few unusual exceptions, sandals and sweatshirts are out. Oxfords and business suits are still in.

Unfortunately, most interviewees are woefully under-prepared with proper interview dress. They feel they can ‘get by’ with what is already in their wardrobe. Usually not. Dress for the world of broadcasting is quite different from the daily business scene. Remember that stylish is not conservative. You should be doing the talking, not your clothes.

This is not to say that you need to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe. Go for quality over quantity. One or two well-chosen business suits will serve you all the way to the first interview and beyond. Then, when you are appearing regularly (and have a chance to see what the standard ‘uniform’ is for the modern TV interviewee), you can begin to round out your wardrobe. For now, no one will fault you for wearing the same sharp outfit each time you interview. If you desire some variety within a limited budget, you might consider varying your shirt/blouse/tie/accessories as a simple way to change your look without breaking your wallet.

One final note on interview dress: while it goes without saying that your interview clothes should be neat and clean, very few interviewees give the same time and attention to their shoes. Shoes? Yes, shoes. There is at least one famous TV interviewer who forms first impressions based solely (pardon the pun) on shoes. This person does not have a shoe fetish – he subjectively judges that those who pay attention to details like their shoes are also likely to be diligent in other areas of life. And it is not just that person’s opinion. Many have said that you can judge a person by their shoes. You will find that many ex-military officers are especially aware of a person’s footwear. It is not enough to be clean, pressed, and ironed. Make sure that your shoes are conservative, clean, and polished.

Follow the above guidelines and you may be sure that interviewers and (more importantly) the TV viewers will take you seriously and listen carefully to what you say, even if they disagree with you.

About the Author

Jonathan Henderson writes for Maple Academy (UK) Ltd. Maple Academy runs a highly successful PR training course for anyone hoping to set up as a self-employed PR consultant. For full details, see http://www.mapleacademy.com

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