Five Reasons not to Wear a Bow Tie During a TV Interview

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I recently attended a Zoom meeting for work where the presenter was wearing a bow tie. His tie was full of bright colors in contrast to his dark shirt. The speaker was a professed bow tie-aficionado. His tie was fun to look at, but it was crooked. I kept mentally straightening it during his whole presentation. It was distracting.

This reminded me that every bow tie I have ever seen someone wear has been crooked, which reminded me of an idea I had in 2010 when I worked for Mayo Clinic Public Affairs (where many of the doctors are also bow tie-aficionados) for an addition to a tip sheet for television interviews. This was a one-pager that we had on hand to advise doctors who weren’t familiar with being interviewed. It contained tips like women not wearing long, dangly earrings because they are distracting. (Although I suppose this could also apply to men!)

If I had continued working at Mayo Clinic longer and gained more “street cred” in the organization, I would have advocated for adding to the tip sheet: “Don’t wear a bow tie.”

Before I list the reasons why, I want to say that I think bow ties are fine for everyday life. I realize they are a way for the wearer to express their individuality and quirkiness, and I’m all for that. They are also convenient in many professions, allowing for a fashion statement that doesn’t drag in your soup bowl like a long necktie would. Also, according to a story on the WHYY public television station, for doctors, bow ties are more hygienic, collecting less bacteria than neckties. But I just don’t think they work for television interviews.

Here’s my reasoning, as if speaking to the interviewee:

  1. No matter how hard you try, your bow tie will be crooked, which is distracting and dilutes the verbal message you’re trying to convey.
  2. Yes, bow ties make the wearer look smart, but they also alienate you from the viewing audience. Historically, bow ties have been a marker of privilege and conservatism. Think of who you are trying to reach with your television interview message. For most health information, I would wager you want the widest possible audience.
  3. During media interviews, you are representing your organization. This is not a time to get all individualist and fancy. You can put your bowtie back on afterward.
  4. Despite straightening beforehand, your bowtie WILL become crooked during the interview.
  5. Your bowtie will run askew. (I cannot stress this enough.) 😊

There, I’ve been carrying that inside for a long time. I feel better now! Feel free to comment with dissenting opinions or agreements below.

6 thoughts on “Five Reasons not to Wear a Bow Tie During a TV Interview

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