Top tips for speaking live on BBC: toilet roll, rescue remedy and your husband's pants.

Yesterday saw my first live national BBC TV interview on an emotive subject via Skype, as I contributed to a discussion on disability abortion law and screening for Down's Syndrome on Sunday Morning Live hosted by Samira Ahmed.

Nervous doesn't come close. Honoured and proud, determined to make every word count, yet scared of who would be on the panel and the questions they might ask, yes. But more a faint shade of petrified I would say. 

And live. Did I mention it was live? Oh, and did I also mention I have a deep-rooted loathing of Skype (other similary offputting online video conferencing applications are available). I like to see the non-verbal cues going on in a room when I speak to people. Oh, and no-one looks at their perkiest no matter how much slap you apply do they?

So here are my top tips for surviving such a live online interview:

Don't run out of rescue remedy 24 hours before.

Prepare thoroughly even if it means staying awake most of 2 nights.

Don't over-prepare, it won't seem natural.

Get a good night's sleep the night before.

Apply even more blusher than your children do when giving you a make-over on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Try to tame locks you didn't have time to straighten with some hair oil.

Don't apply too much hair oil or you may look like you need to be appearing on Aggie's Grimey Hoarders or similar.

Cellotape key notes to your laptop screen but not actually OVER the camera hole.

Get all your points in, starting with the most important first. 

Don't try to force all your points in like shoe-horning your swollen summer foot into a 
dainty court shoe one size too small.

Bring earphone cable to ears from behind your head to give a more professional air.

Check the sound levels aren't too high BEFORE inserting earphones and pushing them home.

Don't swear at the headphones while the researcher giggles at your efforts to remove the aforementioned objects and bring hearing levels back to normal by waggling fingers in your ears.
Very unprofessional regardless of how cable is hidden.

Stock up on toilet paper, for extreme nerves do have a very curiously unpleasant effect.

Realise that 2 minutes before you go live is not the time to need to visit the loo again.

Don't listen to friends who tell you to wear your husband's pants on the bottom half just to lighten the mood.

If your extremities begain to go numb and you feel faint, drink water, run round the garden and force down a rich tea finger. 
But not if it's 2 minutes before you go live.

2 minutes before you go live is also the wrong time to 
a) re-write your thoughts 
b) run for the hills 
c) remember to take the phone off the hook, 
switch mobile off, silence the dog with a chew.

When you've actually finished speaking, be aware they will have your face on screen about 8 feet high. The world will be able to see you sigh, slump in your chair and pick your nose. (No, of course I didn't!)

Remember to record the correct programme and not miss the first half off somehow.

Don't shout at your other half if he manages 
not to record the show.

Don't watch yourself back on iPlayer, you will be your harshest critic and spend another night wishing you had done it all differently.

At least I know for next time :)

You can watch the episode here for 6 more days. The abortion debate begins at around 20 minutes into the programme.


  1. Excellent tips! Ever thought of a sideline as a media trainer?

    1. Haha! You might be onto something there! I could confuse politicians with my conflicting advice...

  2. You.were brill hun ..but funny and real tips lol x x

    1. Thank you Andie. Felt the blog had been a bit serious lately so this needed uplifting treatment...

  3. Oi!
    But You Did It! Yea!!!!

    1. Yay, yes I did. But I spent a week kicking myself about what I might have said better... That's we perfectionists for you. H x

  4. Yeah - well done Hayley! You must be so proud of yourself! So lovely to meet you at Legoland and BritMums Live. Cheers, from Maddie at Gammon & Chips. xoxo

    1. Thank you lovely. I always spend so much time kicking myself after these things. You know, what I could have said that might have been better, might have changed the world...
      I look forward to catching up again in September x

  5. What an hilarious post, loved it! If only i'd seen it a few days early, I could've watched the iplayer clip. Rats, really wanted to watch it (not to see how much you picked your nose or covered up the camera with a sticky note, but to see a confident, erudite and passionate woman speak from the heart about such an important issue of our times......Well done, I know you must have been good. S

    1. Thank you darling. I promise I didn't really pick my nose.... or did I?


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