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    Melanie D. Palm, M.D., M.B.A.
    Melanie D. Palm, M.D., is director of Art of Skin MD in Solana Beach, Calif. Visit her at http://www.artofskinmd.com

    How to schedule and prepare for a TV appearance

    Practical tips for working successfully with the media

    Melanie Palm photoDr. PalmThe idea of being on camera for most of us is anxiety-provoking, unless you are the rare bird that likes to mug up for the camera. The vast majority of us have a fear of public speaking, but much of this fear can be dissolved with practice and preparation. What follows are some practical tips for the dermatologist in how to get and stay involved with the media.

    What do media outlets look for in an 'ideal' medical expert?

    Here is the collective response from myself, and a host of experts including the following panel:

    • Leslie Marcus, producer at CBC nationally-syndicated show “The Doctors”
    • Alexis DelChiaro, TV anchor and host of "Today in L.A."
    • Marsheila De Van, communication specialist & consultant
    • Bretton Holmes, president of Holmes World Media, Inc. — PR specialist
    • Jeff Fischer, managing partner of LMA Worldwide

    1.     Concise communicator

    • Convey information in simple, relatable terms;
    • Use layman’s terms and avoid medicalese when speaking to the interviewer;
    • Avoid “medicalese” and too much medical jargon — think of explaining this to a non-expert and find easy to understand analogies for complex topics.

    2.     Clear communicator

    • Try to answer a question with a succinct “sound byte.” This is typically accomplished in one to three sentences.
    • Avoid the “knowledge curse” such as rambling on and providing excessive information. This loses the audience and creates difficulties for the anchor and editing team.
    • Vary your vocal intonation. Use changes and variations in voice, pitch, and volume to create vocal dynamics and maintain the attention of your audience.

    3.     Endearing personality

    • Be yourself and let your personality shine through.
    • Producers and booking agents are looking for medical experts that make a connection to the viewing audience. Having charisma, a good sense of humor, and engaging with the on-air talent all weigh in your favor.

    4.     Expertise and reliability

    • TV stations want to engage the leading experts in their field. However, a ho-hum, dull expert will be trumped by a more dynamic guest.
    • Remember that you are the expert! By far you are the individual in the room or on the show that has the most information on the topic at hand so share it willingly and confidently.
    • Being readily available, even at the last minute, solidifies the relationship between an expert and the media. 

    5.     Visual aids and props

    • Nothing is more boring than staring at two people talk. Dermatology is inherently a visual field so use this quality to your advantage.
    • Engage the many tools we use in our practices such as a dermatoscope, laser devices, or sunscreen bottles to engage the viewing audience and create visual interest.

    Next: How do you book and prepare for a TV appearance?

     

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