How To Prepare For Media Interviews

Stay Relaxed And Alert

Woo hoo! Or boo hoo! You are invited to give a media interview. The “media” I’m referring to includes: print (magazines, papers), radio (phone, studio), electronic (TV, online, social media, webinars) and live (panels, forums, events).

Media interviews spread your message and do your marketing for you. Well, that’s the ideal outcome and often what is dangled in front of you. The reality often falls short and maybe just your mum will stay up to watch the 2am television interview or read the obscure Etruscan Vessels Quarterly magazine. But sometimes, a media interview will generate increased attention, sales and PR opportunities for your organisation.

I Didn’t Say That!
Media interviews are often set up as a series of highly structured and tightly controlled questions and answers. But not always. Here’s some tales of the unexpected which I’m sharing not to frighten you but to help you stay relaxed and alert:

  • Radio Interview – Recently I gave a short radio interview and in the preliminary phone call I was told the theme was famous people who suffered stage fright. Could I provide tips for handling nerves? Well… the interviewer only asked me about tips for giving wedding speeches; the area in which I do the least amount of work. I just scrambled along as best I could, live on air and survived, as you do.
  • TV Interview – A client was invited to be interviewed by a well known current affairs program. She turned up to find a camera operator and a wall which she had to talk to and pretend was a person. Luckily the camera operator was kind and patient.
  • Newspaper Interview – Once you’ve done a few of these you realise that nothing you say bares any resemblance to what gets printed. Do your best not to swear or reveal your mental health problems. Or even that you know what a mental health problem is, because you may find you have one when you read the article the next day!
  • Live Event Interview – A friend of mine was invited with 24 hours notice to speak at a football stadium of 50,000 in Bangladesh, plus multiple TV cameras. She was the only white face and the translator kept every one laughing. However, she wasn’t saying anything funny! My friend realised she had to let go of her nerves and fears of being misquoted. Every one apparently had a very good time and eventually, so did she.

Tips To Handle Media Interviews

  • Be organised and prepared – think about the ramifications of this opportunity and strategise how you can make the most of it. If you are organised, you will think and speak clearly and get your message across effectively. This is not the time to be star struck and rely on “winging it.” Find out if you can “proof” the interview before it’s released and how you can copy and distribute it yourself.
  • Research – read, listen or watch previous interviews by your interviewer to become familiar with their style and expectations. Observe how previous interviewees handled themselves.
  • Who, what, when and why – make up the structure of an interview. Make sure you can answer each. Ensure you have an expert understanding of your subject and are abreast of current hot topics.
  • You may receive a list of questions in advance – if so, practise answering them flexibly off the cuff; don’t memorise because the questions may change. If there are topics you won’t talk about, advise them in writing and remind the interviewer on the day.
  • Live TV, radio or online – remember to follow the host’s directions as they want you to be at your best. Aim to genuinely converse with the host in normal conversation, letting them lead you with their questions. You may enjoy yourself so much you forget this person is not really your friend! You must remember you are there to do a job and so are they… so watch what you say.
  • Stick to your core message – be grounded and clear about your purpose, which is why you have been asked to speak in the first place. Don’t divulge personal or irrelevant details about your divorce, weight gain or fears about handling media interviews… unless they are the topic!
  • Hone and practise your core message so that when you are asked about it, you will articulate who you are and what you offer with ease, authenticity and professionalism.

 

Prepare, Relax And Let Go!

You may find it useful to observe how I handle speaking to a video camera when I present my 3 Minute Video Tips. I use a conversational, natural style to suit my audience (that’s you!) and a specific video message: “Everyone can speak in public with as much confidence and authenticity as they do in their own lounge room.” Choose a style that is right for you, your audience and your message. In the meantime, if you’d like some professional help with handling your next media interview, contact me for private coaching.

© 2014, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au