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One of the most feared things to do on this planet for most people is to speak in front of an audience, much less a television camera. Some people appear to be naturals at public speaking, for others; they would rather lock themselves in a restroom stall until it’s over. As an image expert and strategist, I’ve coached many clients through their phobias of the media. The number one thing to remember is that you are there because they felt you were the right person, with the right answers and they only want to hear what you have to say about it, because you are the expert. Here are a few tips to help you be confident, prepared and ready for your close up.

• Do wear apparel that is flattering for your body type and keep the cleavage to a minimum. Be sure to wear shoes that are appropriate for the setting, if it’s a business environment; keep your heels at 3 inches or lower. Avoid wearing pin stripes, prints, polka dots and checks; these prints appear to shimmer on television. Vibrant or jewel tone colors show up great on camera but be sure to ask the producer if there are any caveats for their set to avoid from accidentally dressing in the same color. Crisp white shirts or blouses appear to wash out your complexion, wear cream instead; however, if you must wear white, be sure to wear it under a blazer or jacket. Don’t forget to bring a lint roller and do a final spot check before going live or hitting the stage. Check your clothes and shoulders for spots, dandruff flakes, cat hair, dog hair, feathers; you name it and I’ve seen it.

• Do be mindful of your body language; slightly open your mouth and relax your jaws, to keep your face from appearing tight if you don’t want to smile at that time. You are aiming for open and comfortable body language, avoid folding your arms and if you must cross your legs, only do so at your ankles. Also, keep your palms in view, a sign that what you are saying is truthful. Be friendly and confident, no matter how challenging the interviewer may be.

• Do be mindful of your tone when speaking; too loud says that you’re overly confident while speaking too soft, you will be considered timid and unsure. A rule of thumb is to try to match the other person’s tone and volume for synchrony.

• Don’t get a new haircut or hairstyle the day before your appearance, always wait a few days so that it will look more natural, and if you don’t like it, you’ll have time to find someone to correct it. Unless your hair is a part of your brand, less is always more.

• Do have your makeup done by a professional. If makeup will be provided, be prepared for a thick layer. Media makeup is a lot heavier than everyday makeup because of the lighting. The lights cut through 2- 3 layers of makeup. Wear matte finish eye shadow for best results; shimmery eye shadows cause a glare with the camera. Avoid wearing red lipstick, it tends to make your teeth look dull; opt for neutral shades or pink. Opt for clear or natural nail polish colors as well.

Sylvia “Secret” Mikell is an Eco- Chic image strategist who empowers women with strategic flawless looks and helps them to communicate appropriate messages at the proper time to achieve success in their professional and personal lives. She is on a mission to help improve the image of women, entrepreneurs and entertainers while helping them to manage positive lasting impressions.

Secret is the president of Total Image by Secret Inc., a boutique-size image consulting firm that assists women in business and entertainment with improving their quality of life and being successful, while improving their image. Secret helps women to take their stand in the marketplace to be visible to their target audience, create highly marketable and polished personal and business brands.