Harriett Hindmarsh's interview tips
Do you crave prime-time television coverage for your pet project? Or are you being hounded by reporters over a building disaster? Harriett Hindmarsh presents a dozen hard-earned tips for television presentation. And she should know: she was the Arup press officer who had to deal with the mess left after Norman Foster washed his hands of the the wobbly Millennium Bridge in 2001.

Do your homework beforehand
Whether you are initiating television publicity for your project or are responding to what might be hostile questioning, do your homework. Watch a few of the programmes you want to or have been asked to take part in to gauge the level and angle of interest. If you don't, don't complain if you are misinterpreted.

Co-operate fully …
… as long as the request is reasonable. Get the reporter's name and query them about the sort of questions you might be asked. Consider the topic carefully and collect your material.

Define three points you wish to make
Anticipate difficult questions and develop plausible answers for them. Make sure that you have a way to make the three points explain everything.

Keep it snappy
Develop the art of the 10- or 15-second soundbite.

Be clear, concise, simple and direct. Never use jargon, acronyms or technical language. Rely on facts and figures rather than generalisations. Formulate your responses with your audience in mind.

Remain calm and pleasant …
… especially if you're unlucky enough to get an interviewer who is hostile, aggressive or confused.

Tell the truth
If you don't know the answer, say so. Don't guess.

Never say 'No comment'
Instead, say "I really can't speculate", or "I'd really like to answer that but I'm not able to because …" You should only be expected to comment on matters within your field of expertise.

Play for time
If at first you're unsure about how to respond, ask the reporter to repeat the question. This gives you time to reframe it and to formulate your response.

Television needs visuals, radio requires sound
Be sensitive to these requirements when selecting a location. Be aware of background noises that might interfere, such as air-conditioning or conversation.

Be aware of body language
Don't slouch or fidget, and keep your hands still. Look directly at the interviewer, not the camera.

Don't ask to see the programme before it is aired
Producers almost never give their subjects a preview – and it will make you seem difficult.

Keep in touch
At the end of the interview, ask the journalist to contact you to clarify any information. If complicated scientific or technical data are involved, you might suggest the reporter check with you to make sure that what eventually gets broadcast is accurate.