3 steps for successful on-camera interviews

So, your media strategy worked, and now you’ve got an on-camera interview coming up next week with a major TV morning show. It’s one of those make-or-break interviews that could take your company to the next level.

Only problem is, you’re petrified going in front of the camera.

Having that cold optic lens staring at you–with millions of eyeballs watching in the virtual netherworld beyond–can be intimidating. Even for non-shrinking violets, it’s still a good idea to practice and keep your skills sharp.

On Camera

We polled AlleyWire’s 40-member team of on-camera and behind-the-scenes veterans to see just what makes for a great on-camera interview.

What we found is a glib little alphabet soup system we call C-A-P: (C)ontent, (A)ppearance, (P)ersonality. 


The comedian (or is it comedienne when he’s an executive transvestite?) Eddie Izzard once joked that singing the U.S. national anthem is “70 percent how you look, 20 percent how you sound and 10 percent what you say…” And he’s not all that wrong.

Get Your Points to Get to the Point 

Getting in front of the camera and blabbing on and on with no point, will simply get you nowhere. Indeed, it’s worked for countless Kardashians and other reality stars, but you’ve only got a few minutes or even seconds to tell a story and make an impression.

So, take some time to figure out your talking points. DO NOT script yourself. It will come across as stilted, and unnatural, and a big turnoff.

Make a list of the points you want to hit, perhaps using a mnemonic device (e.g. C-A-P), and you’ll be able to hit each of those in a timely fashion.

And believe it or not, once you get going, you really will forget the cameras are there.

You’re a domain expert, it’s why you’re being interviewed–rely on yourself and your own wit, and you’ll be amazed at how it all comes together.

Try and hook the audience with something shocking, sassy, sexy whatever at the top, and then try to end on a high note a la George Costanza. Saying too much is just as bad as saying too little.

There is a Style to Content

Think about how you’re presenting what you’re saying, keep your answers short and pithy if possible. 30 seconds tops. And make sure it’s a complete thought…

Don’t suffer yourself to say uhs and ums if you can avoid it…any kind of verbal crutch (e.g. “likes,” “you knows”) are truly annoying.

If your interviewer asks a question, really pay attention. Don’t start formulating your answer in advance, or you may not answer the question, then you all look awkward.

And above all, have fun! It’s not every day you get to be on TV, enjoy the experience!


As Mr. Izzard reminds us, 70% is how you look. So, take the time to dress the part. It’s not 1965, so you don’t need a suit and tie or formal debutante dress.

A Few Simple Rules of Style: 

You can come in your comfortable attire that truly reflects who you are. But, there are a few simple rules you should know:

1) SHADES OF — Stay away from black and white, as these colors tend to washout on camera–bold shades and jewel tones tend to pop more–if you’re going in front of a green or blue screen, don’t wear those colors

2) STRIPES — Avoid really obvious stripes, most cameras will make them look wavy or out of focus

3) BUSY PATTERNS — The same goes for really busy patterns, they just distract, but good textures can be effective

4) PERSONAL ICONOGRAPHY — If you want to give yourself a bit of personal touch or personal brand, a great pocket square or piece of statement jewelry can be useful. If you’re going to appear on camera regularly, you can go for something that eventually may become “iconic.” Think of Larry King’s suspenders or Steve Jobs’ turtlenecks

5) MAKEUP — Both men and women should wear makeup–for ladies, too much eyeliner can make you look sleepy on camera—for men, you just need liquid and/or powder foundation, under-eye concealer and good hair…no rouge or bronzer.

Your Body:

Use your hands to articulate your points. Having them sitting at your sides will make you look like Mary Katherine Gallagher from SNL. You can use your head as well, but try to keep that relatively stationary and all movement necessary—no gratuitousness here. Cross your legs as you feel comfortable…if you have ticks or fidget…stop it…just stop it.

Make certain to “lean in” when speaking. Sit on the edge of your seat. Don’t sit back and look too relaxed, you’ll come across as disengaged.

No, the camera doesn’t add 10 pounds, but in the world of all-HD, it is much less forgiving to both double-chins and skin flaws.

*A special note when wearing a jacket–always keep it buttoned when sitting, especially behind a desk (I know this goes against style conventions), and actually sit on the tail of the coat if you can to help keep straight lines. 


So now we get to that final piece of the puzzle, the 20% of “how you sound.”

Be True to Thy Self 

Of course you should come across with your honest personality: Be fun and entertaining if that’s who you are—don’t try to push across comedy if you’re not funny.

Don’t think an audience will admire you more by trying to “sound smart.” Keep it simple, and keep your audience in mind.

And FYI, people don’t mind seeing you a little nervous; it’s cute and endearing. Alternatively, confidence, not arrogance, comes across nicely.

Bring the Energy 

One of the most important things to remember is that what you think of as “energy” and “enthusiasm” in your normal life will come across as flat and VERY 2-D on camera.

So, without being Robin-Williams-on-speed level manic, it’s very important to bring as much energy as you reasonably can. If you think you’re being too energetic, you’re not.

People that appear on-camera regularly have a “camera” personality that is an equilibrium between genuine and really “popping.” Watch a Ryan Seacrest or Giuliana Rancic.

Do remember, while brining an abundance of energy, you need to speak slowly enough to be understood—nervous people speak too quickly, and then half of what you say is missed.

Above all, don’t forget to smile!

In Closing:

So to review:

C: Say something meaningful, and be prepared

A: Dress with your own style and remember the “rules”

P: Have fun and bring the energy!

If you need any coaching, feel free to contact me directly at We’re always happy to help!

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Learning on the Go with the Latest Generations of Apps

Education has reached the mobile device, and in a big way. Learning on the go has begun to establish itself in a world where everyone is busy and no one has time to do anything.

“We believe smartphones bring education to people’s hands and pockets instead of requiring them to find a specific time and place to learn,” says Gina Gotthilf, head of communications for mobile language-learning app Duolingo. “Now, people who are too busy to dedicate long periods of time to take a class regularly, or who can’t afford it, can learn by dedicating short spurts of time when it is most convenient to them.”

According to Gotthilf, over 72 million users spend time learning languages on Duolingo through mobile devices—a number that represents 85% of the program’s traffic.

“Learning can take place during your commute, at a doctor’s office, or at home—moments that could otherwise be dedicated to mindless games to pass the time,” Gotthilf says.

The free app offers lessons in Spanish, French, German, and many other languages. On, the company touts its apps as ways to “make your breaks and commutes more productive.”

When using Duolingo, students will not only tap their screens to choose the correct answers, but repeat words after the program to ensure correct pronunciation. If the student mispronounces a word, the program will ask that student to try again. And again. And again.

Apple’s iTunes U offers courses in a broader variety of subjects, calling itself “the world’s largest online catalog of free educational content from top schools and prominent organizations.” The app offers upwards of 750,000 learning materials, and content downloads had exceeded 1.3 billion by the middle of 2014.

Coursera, whose website promotes online education, offers free courses through partnerships with educational institutions. Coursera’s partners include such prestigious universities as Yale, Stanford, and Emory.

When choosing classes, students can look at the course length—some are as short as four weeks, others are as long as 10—as well as when they are offered and what teachers will be lending their knowledge. While some Coursera classes start on specific dates, others allow you to “go at your own pace.”

In a general sense, education based in the virtual world has become standard. Stony Brook University’s online education options are traveling in the direction of mobile compatibility, said Associate Provost for Online Education Wendy Tang.

“The idea [behind online education] is to improve [students’] learning experience; and being able to do it on a mobile device . . . is becoming important,” Tang says.

While not all SBU courses are available on a mobile device—an option that is often dependent upon a device’s memory and model—most of them are, Tang says.

Online education is another method of university outreach, says Tang.

“We’re not trying to replace meaningful face-to-face interaction with online,” she explains. “For me, that doesn’t make sense. We are trying to use online to . . . reach a population that otherwise would not be on campus.”

Many students in the university’s online electrical engineering program, for example, are working professionals. And for students who are also learning on campus, Tang says, the online component can be used for class preparation.

In classes whose rosters include 100 or more students, Tang feels it is difficult for faculty to know each student.

“You can hide in a large, face-to-face…classroom instruction structure; but you cannot hide online,” says Tang. “Online, if they’re not actively responding…they can be identified very easily from a statistical and data point of view.”

The virtual world is open, but it has its own obstacles. Chemical engineering students cannot safely mix chemicals at home, and nursing students cannot graduate having only drawn blood from a dummy.

“You don’t want a nurse to practice on a dummy and try it on you for the first time,” Tang says.

The clinical component, which requires students to visit a training site, brings the class into the physical world.



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Taking the Guesswork Out of Investing with Estimize

When Leigh Drogen was working as a quantitative trader, he realized that there had to be a better way to predict which stocks would be profitable. The estimates from bank analysts, he knew, weren’t always accurate.

So Drogen decided that he wanted to provide traders and investors, whether they did it as a hobby or a full-time job, with more accurate data so they could make better decisions.

In 2012 he launched Estimize, a community that today includes 100,000 users per quarter. According to its website, the company’s data from 6,885 financial analysts “has proven more accurate than comparable sell side data sets over 69 percent of the time.” Its data is frequently referenced in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and CNN Money.

“The whole point of Estimize is that if you collect all of this estimate data from a much wider population of individuals who are not just at banks, a couple of things should happen,” says Drogen. “First of all, you should get a wider dispersion of estimates and a more accurate consensus based on the wisdom of crowds. When you collect the data in this manner, you get a data set that better represents the truer expectations of the market.”

At the moment the website is free, but Estimize will soon be rolling out a premium platform.

“We’re building all sorts of premium analytics, and screening and filtering derivative data,” says Drogen. “This will provide a lot of insight into the data that’s contributed to the platform.”

For now, anyone can continue to utilize the free platform and contribute their knowledge about the financial world. It doesn’t matter whether a person is a first-year student studying finance or a seasoned trader with decades of experience. What really counts is the accuracy of their predictions.

“You can validate the quality of the data not through identity of the person but through statistics,” said Drogen. “We run algorithms to see who knows what they’re talking about. We see user behavior, including how long they spent on the pages and how many times they changed their estimates, and through all of this data we build behavioral models and decide, ‘Do we trust this analyst?’ It gets rid of the need for identity.”

Photo credit: Lauren Kallen

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In a World of Selfies, Discover Alluring Photography on Skotch

Facebook and Instagram are full of selfies, photos of people’s pets, and highly shared memes. For photography connoisseurs, there is not much value in these static, mostly homogeneous newsfeeds.

Josh Abrams and Chase Sorgel, who worked at PayPal together, craved more out of their feeds. They wanted to create a space where photographers, like themselves, could view beautiful, original images and curate their own content. So they came up with an app, Skotch, which entered its beta launch the first week of May, 2015.

Before coming up with the idea of Skotch, Abrams says he and his co-founder “went through all the photo apps and catalogued what we liked and didn’t like about them. We found what we think is a pretty big hole in photo sharing.”

Unlike the current apps out there, Skotch offers a way for users to view the photos they really want. It allows them to see photos, and swipe right if they like them, and left if they don’t. The users’ votes, which stay anonymous, increase or decrease the photos’ scores. When users swipe right, the photos go into their personal collections so they can see them again if they’d like. However, the app is built so that users will never see the same photo twice unless they want to look at it in their collections.

Tech Crunch Skotch Chase Field“It’s for people who really appreciate photography, as well as hobbyist photographers, which is a lot of people now,” says Abrams.

Photos on Skotch are captioned, but cannot be hashtagged. If a user wants to upload a photo, it must be original and contain metadata that can reveal where and when the photo was shot, who was behind the lens, and on which device it was taken. The app itself also contains a free camera for iPhone users.

On sites like Facebook and Instagram, the content that people see is limited to their own networks. Abrams says that he wanted Skotch to be different when it came to photo sharing.

“I’ve traveled a lot, and I love seeing photos from Japan,” Abrams says. “It’s hard for me to log on to Instagram and do that, though, because nobody in Japan is in my network. One of the things people like about our app is that it’s not network first. It’s photo first.”

The two co-founders hope their app reminds people of scotch itself. They want people to collect and treasure their favorite photos the way they might collect the alcohol. In other words, they’re trying to create a more refined way of experiencing photography.

“Right now, we are completely focused on making something that people love,” Abrams says. “That’s goal number one.”

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Designing a Toothbrush That’s Sleeker and Smarter

When the first dentist Simon Enever went to in the United States suggested he purchase a cheap electric toothbrush rather than a more expensive model, he decided to look into his options more carefully. As he began shopping around, he wasn’t pleased with the selection he found on the shelves.

“As a designer, I saw an area [in the market] that was ugly and kind of old-fashioned looking, so it felt right to do something about it,” says Enever, an industrial designer from Bristol, England.

So Enever and Bill May, a product designer he worked closely with at the Hearst Corporation, began working evenings and weekends to redesign the toothbrush. Together, they became co-founders of Quip.

After consultations with multiple dentists, they quickly realized that many consumers don’t even have the brushing fundamentals down—brushing for two whole minutes, twice a day, and changing brushes every three months.

“We noticed that big brands were focusing more on selling you their products and not about daily habits,” says Enever, who’s worked on projects for Panasonic, Lenovo, and Herman Miller at other design agencies. “It made sense for us to come together because we both had design sensibilities and we wanted change the mindset of oral care.”

TechCrunch Quip 3It took them about a year-and-a-half to produce an actual workable toothbrush. Quip’s lightweight and beautifully designed toothbrush has an internal smart electric motor that allows the bristles to vibrate for two minutes (every 30 seconds the toothbrush pulses, reminding you to switch to a different quadrant of your mouth). The best part is that you don’t need to charge your toothbrush, since you can easily insert a AAA battery.

They tested their first iteration on Indiegogo, and they were pleased about the positive reactions from organizations that wanted to be involved with a company focused on promoting oral care. New York University’s College of Dentistry has officially endorsed the product.

When it comes to pricing, Enever looked to brands like Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club, which are selling simple bathroom products to millennials. Starting at $20 for a manual brush ($40 for an electric one), the subscription pricing includes a case and a tube of toothpaste. You’ll get replacement packs that include a new bristle head and toothpaste for an additional $10 every three months.

As of now, the Quip team isn’t looking to focus its efforts on converting Philips or Sonicare users. They’re enthusiastic about tapping the market of manual toothbrush users and showing them the benefits of simple electronic devices.

“If we can make you more attached to your toothbrush,” says Enever, “then we’re doing the biggest job of all.”

Photo credit: Lauren Kallen

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