7 Steps to Hosting an On-Camera or Recorded Interview

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Back in the day, hosting and acting were exclusive and separate entities. Could you imagine Bob Barker being a series regular on a popular sitcom? Today, that is absolutely not the case—lines are as blurred as ever across the lanes of entertainment.

As an actor, hitting a red carpet, press junket, or doing a one-on-one interview is not out of the norm when my acting work is on hiatus or work is simply scarce. It allows me the opportunity to still be active in the entertainment industry while honing a completely different skill.

So how does one become a successful host? Here are seven tips that will help you slay your hosting duties, whether on the red carpet, your web series, or the podcast you host.

1. Be approachable.
Just act normal! The audience listening and watching needs to feel like you are their best friend letting them in on the latest scoop. If they know you, they’ll like you and learn to trust what you say.

2. Keep the slang to a minimum.
Once you get comfortable in front of the mic and on-camera, it becomes very easy to slip into slang that most of your listeners will not understand nor will they want to hear it. Save it for your friends and keep the dialogue as professional and conversational as possible.

READ: How to Start Your Own Podcast

3. Learn to listen.
This is where those acting skills come into play. When conducting an interview, know when to shut up and listen. There’s nothing worse than watching a host run off at the mouth, never giving the talent a chance to fully answer the question. It’s annoying for those watching and listening, and for the interviewee.

4. Master the cold-open and ad-libbing.
Unlike acting for film or stage, you’re pretty much working without a script when hosting, meaning you’ll need to harness your improv skills. Keep your intros and outros to 10 seconds or less and be really clear to be as succinct as possible while teasing the interview.

5. Do your research.
The way you research a character is the same way you should approach an interview. Find out from the publicist or studio who is attending the junket, carpet, etc., and research those individuals including producers, directors, and talent. Keep in mind they have done dozens of interviews a day and are often asked the same question over and over again. Be the person who asks them something that surpirses and delights them.

6. Dress to impress.
Make sure your hair, makeup, and hygiene are flawless. Always look like you are going to walk the carpet yourself. If you look impressive, you’ll attract the eyes of the publicist who’ll become more eager to bring their talent your way. Have a pair of flats and some mints on hand just in case.

7. Don’t be a question hog.
There is nothing more annoying than the person who doesn’t know how to wrap up an interview. Keep it simple and short. You’ll often be grouped with other hosts and hogging the brief time given to grab a sound bite will create enemies with publicists and fellow hosts.

Taking a gig as a host can help you learn a lot about yourself as a performer. You’ll learn quickly what you excel at and what needs serious improvement. Be warned, though: hosting is not for divas or prima donnas. It’s hard work and requires a time commitment that doesn’t end on the carpet. Extra time should be allotted for editing, posting, and scheduling on your social media.

Hosting is exhilarating and exciting, but glamorous it is not. It’s about becoming less presentational and keying into your journalistic side while dazzling with personality and skills. So the next time you watch someone hosting an award show or red carpet, know the hard work put in before requires much more than some cute clothes, nice hair, and fancy makeup.

*This post was originally published on Aug. 14, 2018. It has since been updated.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Carla Renata
Carla Renata is an actor, online radio personality, and blogging/branding expert based in Los Angeles. A graduate of Howard University, with some post-grad work at UCLA, she is the only African-American female actor to recur on four network sitcoms in one season.
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