Camera Shyness: Fight the Fright

Jonah Hill

Stars– They’re just like us!

They get parking tickets! They go to the dermatologist!

And sometimes, they find the idea of doing news interviews to be completely overwhelming.

Just ask Jonah Hill. The actor and filmmaker recently announced he would stop doing media events, citing them as a contributing factor in his longstanding history of anxiety attacks.

Your media encounters may never provoke the kind of stress inherent in the typical Hollywood media junket. But if, like so many people, the idea of doing an interview (on-camera or otherwise) registers on your heart rate monitor, consider these tips:

Mitigate the Unknown

Mystery incites anxiety, predictability breeds comfort. Know your messaging and anticipate reporter questions. Do your research on the journalist so you understand their style. You wouldn’t go on a blind date without first Googling the other person; treat an interview the same way.

Breathe

I had a yoga instructor who used to start our sessions by saying, “Take your three biggest breaths of the day.” Deep, slow breathing lowers blood pressure and induces calm. Try it right before you sit down with a reporter, and continue steady, measured breathing throughout the interview.

Keep it Light

Good reporters use small talk and friendly banter to help you relax before an on-camera interview, so indulge it. Talk about something that makes you happy. Establish things you may have in common with a reporter to induce comfort and familiarity. And humor never hurts (unless the interview is gravely serious). It’s very hard to be paralyzed with fear while laughing.

No matter what happens, whether you remain calm or you panic, you will survive the interview. And when it’s over, in all likelihood you will sigh with relief, feel enriched by the experience, and send the clip to Mom.

Mark Bernheimer

Mark Bernheimer is a former CNN correspondent and the founder of MediaWorks Resource Group, an internationally renowned media training and consulting firm.