Okay something’s happened and you’ve been lined up for an interview in front of the microphones. Brand and reputation are on the line. So now you have to consider Live Vs Recorded Interviews. Which is better?

In this blog I’ll go through the advantages and disadvantages of recorded and live interviews but first what is the context? Live…Let’s say, on Sky News. What are the pros and cons?

Recorded Interviews – Pros

Recorded interviews are like conversations but they’re not actually conversations – so when you’re asked a question you can pause. No-one is going to broadcast silence. Not unless you are Mr Big, the drug dealer suddenly faced with evidence of his global evil empire. And that’s not you. No, listen to the question and then pause, give yourself time to work out how to get from that question to what you really, really need to say. Address the question, bridge back to take control over the content of the interview. Repeat. And again. As long as it takes.

“when you’re asked a question you can pause”

Never mind pause, you can RE-TAKE. If you feel that you are wandering around a subject rather than being commanding and convincing, then stop talking and ask to do the response again. This tactic will never get you out of responding to a question but it will give you the chance at least to say something well. You and the broadcaster both want compelling, lively and interesting TV.

“…stop talking and ask to do the response again”

STOP. That’s right, you can stop a recorded interview. If you think the interview has gone on long enough or that you are simply responding to the same points again and again say politely but firmly can we stop just there, I think I’ve replied to that point. If they’ve got a usable soundbite they’ll soon pack up and go. They’ll have other stories to cover and other interviews to do.

“..you can stop a recorded interview”

Recorded Interviews – Cons

Recorded interviews can be long. And what’s more there’s no pre-defined end to them, so it feels like there’s always one more question. Do not get interview fatigue and go off message. And when you think you’ve responded to a point more than once, stop the interview.

“it feels like there’s always one more question”

However long the interview they’re only likely to want between 10” and 20” (at most) – so make sure you only say the stuff that you’ve decided before the interview is the most important thing you have to say. (see posts on How to Prepare for Interview).

“they’re only likely to want between 10” and 20””

You’ve absolutely no editorial control (except only saying on camera the stuff you absolutely want broadcast). The language of broadcasting is that you give an interview and you give it to the journalist. The journalist then has editorial control and will chose the soundbite that suits them.

“You’ve absolutely no editorial control”

Live Interview – Pros

A live interview on Sky News will last not much more than 1’ 30”. It’s a short interview. In other words you only have to concentrate getting your message across and delivering it with authority for a short period of time. Its three or four question and responses at best. Don’t try to speak for too long as the news anchor will interrupt – but a live Tv interview will be the shortest news interview you’ll give.

“you only have to concentrate getting your message across…for a short period of time”

You get lots of air time! If you’re comfortable then always go live just for this very reason alone. You’ll have direct access to this important audience for a whopping 1’ 30” and when you’ve got something to say then that’s a really valuable commodity.

“You’ll have direct access…for a whopping 1’ 30””

Editorial control switches to you. The journalist no longer gets to pick and choose which bits to use. You do. You’re live on Sky News and you have direct access to the audience. What you say goes straight to the end user. Go for it!

“The journalist no longer gets to pick and choose which bits to use”

You often get double value because Sky News has an awful lot of airtime to fill – as does every live news / speech channel from BBC local radio right up to international news channels – so live interviews will always be recorded in the studio and often a chunk is taken to feature in the following news bulletins. Speaking earlier on Sky News….

“Live interviews will always be recorded…and featured in the following news bulletins”

So, on balance…

If you’re comfortable and have had media training then the advice from the team here at BMS would always be to go live. The Pros are just too good to turn down.

Oh yes, the cons. Sorry, forgot. There is one Con.

Live Interview – Con

YOU’RE LIVE! That’s right. Sky News is a very funny place to resign. What you say goes straight to air. Yes, you have regained editorial control but you’re editorial control mechanisms are your brain and your mouth. Please make sure both are fully engaged before the red light goes on!

“you’re editorial control mechanisms are your brain and your mouth”

There’s a lot you can do to prepare yourself fully for the live TV interview. And for that you’ll need professional media training. BMS can help!