For the past 25 years, Arch Lustberg has coached classes of The Council of State Governments’ Toll Fellows program on how to more effectively deal with the media. He has coached governors, congressional leaders, presidential appointees and business leaders on effective communication. Here are his tips on how to look good on TV.
OPEN YOUR FACE.
An open face as opposed to a neutral or closed face is the kind used when talking to a baby, for instance, Lustberg said. “We elevate our eyebrows, we open our eyes wide and get a musical tone to our voice,” he said. “So the open face changes the way we look, the way we sound, and it says to the other person, I like you very much.” A closed face with tell-tale frown lines suggests anger, while a neutral face puts the audience to sleep—“a neutral face is a face I’m going to show you when they open my casket,” Lustberg said.
REMEMBER THE PAUSE.
It’s a common misconception never to pause on TV, but the right pause is golden, Lustberg said. “The pause is the digestive of the mind—it gives your audience a chance to think about what you just said and it gives you a chance to consider how to say the next thing best.” But make sure the pause is silent and maintain eye contact. “Eye contact together with silence makes the pause magical,” Lustberg said. “It works like a charm.”
KEEP EYE CONTACT.
Have a conversation with the interviewer and maintain eye contact, Lustberg said. “The audience wants to see you talking to someone.”
BE SIMPLE, BRIEF, CLEAR AND CONCISE.
Get rid of –ize words and multi-syllable words, he said. Keep it simple. Stay away from political jargon and acronyms, Lustberg said. “Simple, brief, clear and concise equals easy to understand. And that’s the whole point of communication, is the audience gets the message.”
In Lustberg’s view, the ingredients to communicating effectively on TV are your likability, your competence and your trustworthiness. “You have to appear to be all three of those,” he said. Trustworthiness can’t be taught, Lustberg said, but “show competence and likability—if you show both of those, the audience will consider you trustworthy.”