If you’re an investment banker, marketing executive or equity analyst, it’s only a matter of time before the television cameras come calling for an expert opinion. But sounding savvy during your big TV appearance isn’t enough, you also need to look the part.
A fair amount of thought and planning goes into getting anchors to look well-put together, but guests who are unacquainted with on-air dressing can look as sharp, by adopting a few pro tips.
When you share the screen with Udayan Mukherjee, look as sharp as he does
If in doubt, go formal. TV channels often call on investment expert Ramesh Damani. The BSE broker says he almost always puts on a tie when he’s scheduled to make a television appearance, even though he doesn’t wear one every day. “It’s important that you come across more formally in such a public medium. If you speak well and are well-dressed, people will listen to your message more clearly,” Damani believes.
The most important colour rule is to avoid white. To use broadcast lingo, it “burns” on air. “We never allow anyone to wear pure white on TV. Studio lights are so bright that white looks like a spotlight,” says Jasleen Bhatty, the in-house style coordinator at CNBC TV-18. Off-white and cream, however, are acceptable.
Bhatty also urges you to try colours you wouldn’t normally wear, such as fluorescent green or yellow. “The lights wash out bright colours, so they actually end up looking like pastel shades,” she says. Pale hues don’t work well, neither do shades of grey and brown. “Wear strong, deep colours,” says Sonia Singh, a stylist for Star News.
Bright ties look good on screen; opt for broad stripes, large prints or solid colours, not pieces with tiny detailing. Another tip: If you don’t know the colour of the set, make it a point to find out a day before you go. You don’t want to turn up in a shirt which is the same colour as the backdrop and blend in. For example: CNBC prefers anchors don’t wear too much blue, as that’s the colour of their background.
Green is another colour anchors avoid wearing on air. That’s because they often stand in front of a chroma (a frog-green background which is replaced by a different background or scenic view in post-production); wearing a green outfit makes the superimposed background bleed through.
Be wary of fine checks or stripes which tend to “jitter”, or create an illusion of movement on air. “Any fine prints, be it paisleys, checks or florals, don’t look good, even if it’s for a close-up shot. Bolder prints work well,” says Bhatty. Female guests are asked to avoid saris with thin borders. Singh says it’s better if TV freshers don’t experiment with prints. She recommends synthetic or wrinkle-free fabrics instead of natural materials. “Pure cottons and linens wrinkle easily and that stands out very clearly,” she says.
Some rules are simply common sense. Wear dark suits only if you’re on in the evenings, a shirt and tie will suffice for morning or afternoon appearances. People who wish to appear slimmer should opt for dark shades.
Whatever your relationship with make-up may be off screen, remember that there’s a reason why people wear it on television. “Most studios have flat lighting, which can be unflattering,” says image consultant Rukshana Eisa. While you don’t need to slap on the pancake, a basic base is necessary to camouflage flaws and unevenness, which are highlighted on TV. “Most studios have a make-up team. Please ask for a quick base layer to be dabbed on before you go on air. Most channels will be only too happy to do it,” says Singh.
Eisa says going one shade darker will ensure you don’t look pale and washed out. “And, contrary to popular belief, neatly manicured blood-red nails with a matte texture are very business-like,” she adds.
Spectacles are another stumbling block for many debutants. “If you wear uncoated glasses before a TV camera, the image of the camera and studio lights are reflected in the lenses and it looks terrible on screen,” says Rohit Gangar, partner at Gangar Opticians. He says newscasters often come in with producers, who help them choose the right type of anti-reflective lenses. “To get the right mix of looks and utility, most anchors prefer rimless frames with anti-reflective glass,” Gangar says.
And please be careful while choosing your accessories. While viewers of CNBC and NDTV have the highest respect for technical analyst Ashwani Gujral’s views on the market, his bright pink Sony Vaio laptop and colourful cravats can be distracting. Let your accessories be subtle and business-like. It’ll only ensure that viewers focus on what you are saying.