Crafting a Stellar Presence: 11 Pro Tips for Media Interviews

Media interviews are an incredible opportunity to share your message with a wider audience and forge new connections for your brand.

When you get them right, media interviews are excellent for public relations or PR. They can boost your credibility, position you as an expert in your field, and create interest in your work from far and wide.

That said, calls for media interviews often come last minute with almost no time to thoroughly prepare and practice. These interviews can also seem daunting when you have little to no experience of talking to camera or microphone. And, of course, some interviewers can come on too strong.

Don’t panic! This article will help you make the right impression and get your message across with as much time as you have before the big moment.

Getting Ahead With Media Training

Getting Ahead With Media Training

Media training is thoroughly recommended for anyone who may be thrust into the spotlight to share their work, their expertise or their insights. None of us know what is around the corner and tomorrow may be your day to shine as the expert or be the messenger in a crisis.

Taking a training course on how to deliver during a media interview covers topics such as:

  • How to construct the right message ahead of time
  • How to anticipate an interviewer’s questions
  • How to be succinct while saying everything you want to say
  • How to create powerful soundbites
  • How to appear natural and confident through your body language, dress and voice
  • How to manage anxiety

Large corporations make sure that they have a bank of people who can be called upon to deliver on-brand advice, insight or expertise should any interested journalists come looking. Smaller businesses would be wise to do the same.

Getting media training means you are prepared to:

  • Grasp any good opportunities to appear on TV or radio.
  • Talk with confidence and poise from your very first interview.
  • Handle being interviewed in a crisis scenario.

11 Pro Tips for Media Interviews

No time to enroll in a media training course before the big moment? In need of some last-minute tips? Here are some snippets from a media training course that will help you out.

Before the interview…

  1. Prepare your message thoroughly. What are the key points you want to make, no matter what questions you are asked? Prepare two or three points that will be your key messages. Be certain you know exactly what you want your communication objective to be.
  2. Back your points up with facts, figures, personal experiences and anecdotes as appropriate. Learn these by heart. This evidence will help you put your points into perspective, better resonate with the audience, and position you as the expert.  You will look and feel more confident, too.
  3. Research the reporter. The more you know about the journalist and their style, the less likely you’ll be caught off guard. Watch or listen to some of their interviews to get a feel for their approach and the kinds of questions they ask.
  4. Consider the likely questions. What will the journalist be looking to ask you about? What will the audience at home want to know? Asking these questions will help you prepare more thoroughly.

During the interview…

  1. Always lead with your key point. When you answer the journalist’s questions, get straight to your key message as soon as possible. Background information and further detail should come second. This ensures that your key message gets through, even if your answer is cut off early.

Don’t be afraid to repeat your key points throughout the interview and especially at the end. Where possible, open and close the interview with the point you want to make most.

  1. Be brief. Always answer as succinctly as possible. Resist the urge to keep talking and fill the time; this is a typical reaction when people feel nervous.Remember that it is the journalist’s role to keep the interview flowing and they are well-practiced at this.

However, reporters may also use silence to unnerve you. Be aware of this and don’t fall into the trap of saying something you don’t want to. Keep your answers to the planned objectives as much as possible.

  1. Answer in full sentences with a complete thought. There is a chance that some of the reporter’s questions will be edited out for highlights. Your answers should still make sense without the context of the question.
  2. Separate opinion from fact. Use phrases such as ‘I feel’, ‘in my opinion’ and ‘it is my belief that,’ so that the audience can differentiate between them. This is important for presenting your image as truthful and knowledgeable.
  3. Employ bridging techniques to handle difficult questions. Answer tricky questions as quickly as possible and then bridge across to your ready-prepared key messages. You will have seen this technique used many times by those well-practiced in media interviews, such as politicians and organizational spokespersons.

Practicing the bridging technique ahead of time will be useful. Enlist the help of a trusted person to ask you difficult questions. Rehearse maneuvering your answer into delivering your key message.

  1. Be honest if you can’t answer a question. If the reporter throws a curveball and asks you about something of which you have little knowledge, don’t bluff. Be honest and say that you are not familiar enough with the subject to which the reporter is referring.
  2. Be polite and friendly, but not overfamiliar. Interviews are not the time for making jokes or saying flippant things that may be shown or quoted out of context. Stick to answering the questions as politely and efficiently as possible, even when the interviewer is hostile or perhaps even overly-friendly themselves.

Some final advice

Practice, practice, practice. Put as much time and effort as possible into considering possible questions and answering them. Enlist the help of others to put you through your paces.

Ideally, opt for a media training course where professionals will teach you how to present yourself clearly and assertively. Later, they can put you to the test with a range of interview styles so that you feel ready for the real things.

Above all, remember you’re the expert, so stay calm, collected and confident.

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