Being asked to appear on TV or speak on the radio can be a daunting prospect, particularly if public speaking isn’t your thing. However, the exposure a smooth, composed media interview can generate makes it extremely worthwhile investing in media training for you and your staff. Over the years, Effective has supported clients with hundreds of media interviews, and we know a thing or two about how to execute a successful interview:
- Preparation. Preparation. Preparation. – A media interview request is an ideal opportunity to showcase your business, so plan ahead and know what you want to say. Even when responding to a crisis comms situation, an interview is a platform to explain your side of the story. If you don’t, someone else will do it for you. Your prep should include the main messages you want to get across – but don’t write a script. Make two or three key points, and collate some statistics and a couple of examples to reinforce what you are saying.
- Who? What? Where? All interviewers have varying styles and approaches so knowing who is asking the questions can help you prepare. Finding out what questions will be asked can help you plan your responses, and knowing where the interview is taking place, will allow you to visualise the interview.
- How long? It’s important to know how long the interview will be to appreciate the time you have to get your key messages across.
- Is anyone else being interviewed? It may be someone who is giving an opposite view to yours so you might expect some hostility or challenges.
- Live or pre-recorded? Obviously, a pre-recorded interview may be heavily edited so it is important to prepare to deliver your key messages in a short, succinct piece.
- Be enthusiastic – If you can’t be enthusiastic, how can you expect the listener or viewer to be interested in what you have to say. Aim to perform at 110 per cent of your usual self – any more and you will seem ungenuine. Anything less and you run the danger of losing viewers.
- Relax – Forget the potentially millions of people watching or listening – think of the interview as a fireside chat between you and the interviewer.
- But don’t relax too much! In media interviews, the interviewee may become so comfortable with the interview process that they switch off and don’t listen to the questions. There is also a risk of freezing up when you don’t know the answer to a question. Don’t ‘switch off’ until the microphone is switched off.
- Focus – Maintain eye contact with the interviewer. Don’t look around or look into the camera which can be distracting for a viewer and may make you seem ungenuine.
- Dress appropriately – If on television, don’t wear anything which may distract the viewer, and if outside, keep your hair tied back in case of wind.
- Never, ever, lie. If you don’t know the answer to the question, be honest.
- Avoid confrontation – While it’s important you get your points across, do not spark a row with the interviewer or fellow interviewee. History is littered with these car crash interviews.
- Remember the microphone – If you are asked to wear a microphone, assume that it is permanently on until you are back in the car park and it has been long removed.
- Keep it simple – Don’t use jargon which anyone outside your area of expertise won’t understand.
Enjoy it! Sometimes interviews can be challenging because of the subject matter, or you may be responding to criticism, but relish it! Remember, you are the expert!
Effective Communication is a PR and digital marketing agency based in Cardiff that offers media training tailored to you. Our aim is to make our clients feel confident and to prepare them for any situation that may arise in a media interview. If media training would be beneficial to you, visit https://weareeffective.co.uk/academy/masterclass-media-interview-training/