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Archive for the ‘On Camera’ Category

Should You Do
That Interview?


“Should I do that interview with…” is a question that I get asked all of the time by clients.

My response is: it depends.

The first consideration: are you one of those people who believes that there is no such thing as bad publicity? If you are– and you feel confident in your ability to handle tough questions– go for it.

If you disagree– and I personally do– then you should do some investigating before you agree to any interview.


1. Who is doing the interview? What’s his reputation? Does he have an axe to grind?

2. What, if any, news organization is he affiliated with? If he is, check out the organization’s reputation. For example, do they have political leanings that you need to know about?

3. Check out the interviewer’s last  six stories, blogs, interviews etc. and see what topics they covered. Was his writing fair and balanced? Were both sides of the story represented?

After you’ve done your homework, weigh the pros and cons. If the person is fair and balanced, I’d recommend doing the interview. If the interviewer has an axe to grind or a bad reputation, I’d recommend skipping it unless there was a good reason for you to take him on. And even then– I’d only recommend it if you’d been through an executive media training program and were good at handling tough questions.

Online Demand
Changes Interviews


The man behind the camera said, “Who are you and what do you do?”

The man being interviewed said, “My name is —- and I uh. Wait. Can I start again?”

Yes, I saw the whole mishap on-camera. And so have plenty of other people by now.

A few years ago, you’d never have seen that mistake– at least not in traditional media outlets. At most– a couple of soundbites would have been chosen and that would be that. BUT with greater emphasis on new and rapidly changing online content– more and more reputable and non-reputable organizations are posting interviews in their entirety online.

Part of that–as I said– is to create new online content for readers/ viewers. The other part is that you now have many people/ organizations who don’t know how to edit and/or don’t want to pay anyone to do it.

As a result, you need to really watch what you say. NEVER assume that anything is off the record. NEVER assume that someone will edit out your mistakes. From the time that you walk into the room to meet someone– you must assume that everything is on-the-record AND that everything that is recorded will be shown.

This also means that the need for media training is greater than ever. Not only do you need to watch what you say, but you need to have enough content to fill ten or fifteen minutes.

Makeup for Men


After yesterday’s blog on makeup for women, I received many emails from men wanting to know whether they should wear makeup on-camera. YES!

Never fear– you don’t need to buy a liquid foundation. You need some type of powder (pressed or loose) that will keep the shine off your face. It’s a fact that we all sweat under hot camera lights, so you need something to prevent that sheen of sweat from forming on your upper lip, forehead and/or nose. (And if you’re bald, you might need to dust some powder on top of your head.) Laugh all you want, but you’ll thank me later when you don’t look like the anchor in Broadcast News with flop sweat.

What Should You Buy?

Your options run from loose powder to pressed powder. The loose powder is usually packaged in a round container. The pressed powder will be found in a compact. If you can, try to find a shade that matches your skin tone. If that’s too difficult, look for translucent powder that doesn’t add any color. It’s sheer and just absorbs moisture.

One word of warning– the loose powder tends to be messy. It can get all over the place if you shake out too much. A compact is much easier. It comes with a powder puff or sponge and all you do is swipe your puff over the pressed powder. Then pat the powder puff all over your face. Voila! You’re ready for your close-up.


If you’re shopping in a drugstore, try NYC, Physician’s Formula or Coty Airspun for loose powder. For pressed powder in a compact, try Cover Girl or Maybelline. Both are available in a wide variety of shades.

If you’re willing to spend a little more money–and you are brave enough to walk into a MAC makeup store– I highly recommend their Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation. It’s $26.50 and worth every penny.

Final Note

Remember, if you choose a makeup that adds color to your face, you will also need to put makeup on your neck. Otherwise you’ll have have this terrible two tone look i.e. a darker face and a lighter neck. Both your face and neck should be the same shade.

On-Camera Makeup

powder and brush

Update: October, 2013– Smashbox is discontinuing its High Definition Healthy FX Foundation. In its place, they are offering their Liquid Halo HD Foundation SPF 15.

Koh Gen Do also offers a newer HD makeup: Aqua Foundation SPF 15.  It comes in a jar whereas their Moisture Foundation comes in a red tube. Both are $62.00.

When I first started out in TV news, a makeup artist told me, “If you feel comfortable walking down the street with the amount of makeup you have on, you aren’t wearing enough to be on-camera.” (She knew that I was a girl who went for a natural look in my everyday life.)

Even with the advent of High Definition Television that still holds true BUT now you need to make sure your foundation melts into your skin. Otherwise we’ll really see every imperfection. In other words, the days of heavy and/or pancake makeup are over. Or they should be if you want to look your best on-camera.

HD Makeup

For years, I have recommended that clients go into MAC stores and ask artists to help them purchase on-camera makeup. Lately, I haven’t had great customer service experiences with MAC, so I hesitate to wholeheartedly recommend them. But you can still meet great MAC makeup artists who will help you at their stores.

If you’re doing this on your own, there are two HD liquid foundations that I recommend.

My hands down favorite, especially if you have sensitive skin, is Koh Gen Doh’s Moisture Foundation. A Hollywood makeup artist introduced me to it at the end of the summer. It melts into your skin and a little goes a long way. Plus my sensitive skin LOVES it. You can find it online at Sephora or on Koh Gen Doh’s website. You might also try contacting Koh Gen Doh’s delightful customer service reps. When I emailed them about shades, they offered to send out samples that helped me choose the best one for me.

My second favorite HD makeup is Smashbox’s High Definition Healthy FX Foundation with SPF 15. This also melts into your skin with a wide range of shades. It goes on best when applied after Smashbox’s Photofinish Foundation Primer. You can find both at Ulta, Sephora or on Smashbox’s website.







Photographer taking picture of a model

If you check out my Eat The Lens logo, my website or my social media profiles, you will see my professional headshots. They were all taken by the wonderfully talented photographer, Paul Audia.

They are great pictures of me and I am often asked about them on twitter. Who took them? How did you find your photographer? How much did you pay?

People also ask me for advice about their headshots. What should I wear? How do I know which side is my good side? Should I airbrush my pictures?

Here are your answers:

1. How do I find a photographer? Find someone whose headshot you like. Ask who shot it. Check out the photographer’s website. Ask whether the photographer has experience working with non-models. This is critically important because some excellent photographers don’t have the patience or the personality to work with amateurs. You want someone who does great work AND likes working with real people.

2. How much should I pay? If you’re lucky, you can find someone good for under $300.00. If you’re on a budget, ask friends if they know anyone with a great camera, who would be willing to take a shot of you. (Read below for details about special pricing for a session with Paul Audia through my friend, Sima Dahl.)

3. What should I wear? Wear bold, solid colors. Steer clear of prints or patterns. Choose a color that looks good on you. AND if this is a professional picture, make sure what you’re wearing is appropriate for your business. For example, my brother is an attorney and I would tell him to wear a suit for his picture. You can also change it up. I wore my sapphire blue top for a creative business look and my purple jacket for more of a corporate look. I consult with both groups of people.

4. How do I know which side is my good side? Ask a friend to take pictures of you while you’re looking to the right, left and straight ahead. For most people it is obvious which side is best. Some people are lucky and they have options. For me, straight on is best.

5. Should I airbrush my pictures? That’s entirely up to you. Personally, I only want a little airbrushing. I don’t want my pictures to look like someone else. I subscribe to the L’Oreal tagline when it comes to airbrushing…”You, only better.”

My Experience

Normally I hate sitting through photo sessions. I know that’s an odd thing for a former TV news reporter to say, but it’s true. I can talk on-camera all day long in front of thousands of people. (And I have.) But when it comes to photo sessions, I am just never really comfortable. I hate sitting still and holding poses. BUT finally I found someone I loved. Paul Audia.

Audia truly is one of the most gifted, nicest photographers that I have ever worked with. Not only is he a brilliant photographer, but he’s a lighting genius. As such, your photos won’t need much airbrushing. Best of all, he put me at ease right away. He quickly assessed what angles were best for me and he gently directed me throughout the shoot. It only took him 30 minutes to take more than 100 shots. Of those– I probably loved at least 30 of them.


Finding a great photographer, whom you really like, is the best advice I can give you in terms of taking a great headshot.

And if you’re in Chicago, I recommend that you take advantage of special sessions that my friend, Sima Dahl, offers a few times a year for headshots with Paul Audia. In a nutshell, normally it costs almost $500 for a session with Audia. (He has taken pictures of President Obama and other celebrities.) Through Sima, you can get one photo (with minimal airbrushing) for less than $200.00. Check in with Sima on twitter, @simasays, to find out when she’s offering the next Headshot Days with Audia.



Question: True or False–You’ve either got charisma or you don’t.

Answer: True. BUT there are some things you can do to up your charisma quotient.

Explanation: Some people can learn to be charismatic, but that’s a very small group. An equally small group: people who not only have charisma, but know how to turn it on and off. When those people enter a room, all eyes are on them. They are the flame; everyone else is a moth. Their charisma is obvious.

But not all is lost if you don’t possess that spotlight-grabbing type of charisma, particularly if you possess other talents. There’s something to be said for people who are quietly confident. They are usually very bright and well-spoken. They have good content and know how to deliver their messages. They understand the power of brevity and answer questions succinctly. In short, they’ve received executive presentation skills coaching or executive media training from someone like me, who taught them to make the most of what they’ve got.

You too can be successful if you assess your strengths and play to them. If you’re great at messaging, focus on that. You’re a good storyteller? Make that work for you. If you’re good at talking to people, have a conversation with them. (Don’t know your strengths? Consider getting some coaching.)

If you accentuate the positive, you can often eliminate the negative. Even without a show-stopping performance.

Ready for Your Closeup?


A photographer came around to take a group picture at an event I attended. And before he could get everyone arranged, a woman shouted out, “No, I need to go to the other side. My left side is my best!”

Three women replied, “How do you know that?” And she said, “I’ve had my picture taken enough over the years to know.”

I chuckled because it is one of the questions that I get asked most often on twitter: How do I figure out which side is my best side?

Simple. Get out your digital camera and ask someone to take pictures of you. First– straight on. Next– with your left side slanted towards the camera. Finally with your right side facing the camera. These are not profile shots. Rather you’re angling or “cheating” one side of your face towards the camera/ light.

Now look at all of the photos with a critical eye. Choose the one that looks best. For most people, it’s an obvious choice. If you’re not sure, take a survey among your trusted friends. Go with the one that most people like the best.

Taking Risks


The catcher threw the baseball low and out of frame to me. I caught it with one hand. (I was holding the microphone with the other.) And I quickly pulled the ball up and into frame so viewers could see it.

When I returned to the newsroom, I received a standing ovation for my liveshot. I laughed and bowed and was about to head for home when the executive producer stopped me.

“Noeleen– that was so great! But it was such a big risk. Weren’t you afraid that you’d drop the ball? ”

“No. It never occurred to me that I’d drop it.”

Background: I grew up playing 16″ softball in Chicago. (Yes, the ball is 16”.  And we don’t use gloves.) When I was nine, I was robbed of a surefire hit to left when the shortstop leaped into the air and caught my line drive one-handed. For the next month I threw a 16” softball against a wall until I could catch it one-handed with both my right and left hands. So catching a tiny baseball was no big deal.

“But what if you dropped it? What would you have done?”

“Then I would have dealt with it and moved on. For example, the catcher’s throw was really low today and I handled it. No big deal.”


I know I’m a confident person, but I am always amazed at people who are afraid to take risks. Without risk, there is rarely any reward.

Whether it’s public speaking, presentations or media interviews, you need to be willing to put yourself out there.

As I’ve said before, it’s the difference between playing not to lose and playing to win.

Winners take risks.


photo credit: chemisti via photopin cc

Memorable or Perfect?

be different

My first TV news anchor reel wasn’t great, but at the time I thought it was perfect. Perfectly written, perfectly edited and perfectly memorized.

Yes, that was the problem– perfectly memorized. We didn’t have a teleprompter in CNN’s Chicago bureau, so I had to memorize a three minute anchor segment. I wasn’t sure what lines our editor would cover with video, so I memorized the whole thing. And it showed.

I sounded like a robot. I lacked spontaneity. I was blah.

In sharp contrast, I recently misspoke while moderating an early morning panel discussion. I said the opposite of what I meant while ad libbing an introduction of one of the panelists. She quickly corrected me, and I laughed. I explained that I wasn’t a morning person– that my synapses didn’t start firing on all cylinders until the noon hour. Everyone laughed and I went on with the introductions.

After the event, several people came up to me and told me what a great job I did. Was I perfect? No. But I was charismatic and spontaneous. I listened to what the panelists said and I followed up. I steered the conversation, so the audience could learn as much as possible from these talented panelists. In short, I was memorable.

Today– 20 years after my first anchor reel– I know that memorable beats perfection every time.

Versus Amateurs


A couple of months ago I taped a segment with my friend, Carol Roth. She was promoting her new book, The Entrepreneur Equation, in which she offers advice to people thinking about starting their own businesses.

In one section she addresses the importance of getting publicity for your business. Carol asked me to share media strategies as well as messaging and on-camera tips for entrepreneurs.

I started by asking a series of questions: Are you serious about getting publicity? Do you want to be seen as the best in your industry? Do you want to really excel at doing media interviews i.e. taking control of an interview and shaping the angle of the story?

OR: Are you happy just being interviewed? Are you content with just doing an OK job?

If it’s the latter, then you don’t need executive media training. You’ll get by on what – if any scraps—are thrown your way. There’s nothing wrong with that.

But if you don’t want to settle for second best AND you really want to learn how to play the media game—then sign up for executive media training.

Interview Scenario

A start-up is founded. There’s a lot of buzz. The executives figure they can get by without media training.

A reporter shows up to do a story. The executives are interviewed. Their interviews are fine. One executive is really personable. Another is sort of intense but fine. And a third even gives a couple of good soundbites, but they are too “inside the game.” Most people at home won’t understand what he meant.

Did they do a decent job? Sure. Was it as good as it could have been? Not by a long shot. The reporter wound up doing a big picture story about new businesses. As a result, viewers didn’t learn much about this particular company or its services.

Had that team received executive media training, they could have greatly influenced the angle of the story. If they’d thought about their messaging ahead of time, they could have come up with soundbites about their business that were too good for the reporter to pass up. As such, they would have steered the reporter in the direction they wanted him to go i.e. focusing on their specific business as opposed to a big picture industry story.

Instead, this company got a mention. And it was a nice one. But this “mention” didn’t really help them because viewers still don’t know what they’re all about. These executives, who had an audience of millions in the palms of their hands, squandered an opportunity to really sell themselves and convince viewers to become customers.

And that is the difference between flying by the seat of your pants– hoping that a story will go your way (amateur) and taking the time to craft messages and soundbites that will sell the reporter and his viewers on your company. (professional.)