Worried about giving a media interview? Afraid you won’t get your message over clearly and confidently? Here are my top 10 tips for preparing for any media interview.
- Short, simple answers are better than long, complex answers. Most sound bites are less than 10 seconds (30 words).
- Know your strategic objective in doing the media interview. Figure out in advance the handful of key thoughts you want the audience to hear, and make sure you deliver them. If the audience only remembered one thing, what would you want that to be?
- Don’t be a slave to the questions. Questions are just the springboard to your message. Listen for the word or phrase in the question that helps you deliver one of your main thoughts.
- Focus on benefits rather than process. If the question was ‘tell me about Podium Coaching’ I could talk about how and when Podium was formed or I could talk about how it helps people. If I was in the audience, I know which I would prefer to hear.
- Don’t try to answer every element of an unfocused question. For example, imagine you were asked – ‘Tell me about your experiences as a coach? What’s it like to work with your clients and see them learn and apply new skills before your eyes?’ Decide what you want to emphasize. If you think it’s time to spell out your credentials, then focus your reply on the first part of the question. If you want to talk about how easily people transform with your help, build your answer around that. If you want to talk about the liberating effect of achieving change, the last part of the question gives you the opportunity. Just don’t try to answer every element of the question in one reply. It’ll get long and lose some of its impact.
- It’s not about answering the questions (interviewer’s agenda), it’s about planning your messages in advance and looking for the opportunities to deliver them (your agenda).
- If it’s likely to be a challenging media interview, spend time in advance anticipating the difficult questions. Figure out if you can answer directly or if you need to find a phrase that bridges to you preferred response.
- No matter how provocative the questions, keep your responses and demeanour professional at all times. Don’t get drawn into an intemperate, personal response.
- Practice active listening. The more attention you pay to the words of the question, the easier it will be to find a bridge to your message.
- Tell stories that encourage the audience to nod and say ‘yes, that was me, I’ve felt like that’.
If you found these tips helpful, you might want to check out my e-book Media Mastery: Talking to the Press Without the Stress. ($10 from our on-line store).
Neil Everton has distilled a lifetime’s experience with some of the world’s top news organizations into his Media Mastery training aids for anyone worried about talking to reporters. The video, books, e-books and workbooks are available in the Podium Coaching online store.