Media Interview Success
Being asked to do a radio or television interview can be a daunting prospect. But if you prepare well and are aware of how the media works, the process will go quite smoothly.
The first thing you should do when asked to do a radio or television interview is say, yes, then control the panic that may set in.
A lot of people unfamiliar with doing an on-air interview are daunted by the prospect and get very nervous. This fear can stop us moving ahead and saying no to the chance of promoting our businesses. You need to put this fear into its right perspective – what is the worst thing that is going to happen to you?
You might think you are going to die or pass out and faint once a microphone is put in front of you but it is highly unlikely. The knocking knees and shaky voice you might think will give you away but generally nerves are pretty normal and not noticed so much by other people even though you may be feeling it strongly.
Nerves can be used as a source of enthusiasm to show your commitment to the subject you are talking about. So let's look at how we might eliminate unnecessary fears from an interview situation.
You only have one chance to get it right with live radio or television. You know your subject better than anyone else so think about some possible questions they may ask and prepare your answers. Ask your partner or a friend to ask you a few questions and have a rehearsal – practice. Find out as much as you can about the program on which you're being asked to appear – is it live or pre-recorded? What angle are they taking? What are they expecting from you – what are the question areas? Is the audience completely general, or is targeted at housewives or business people? Think about the points you could make which are most interesting, useful and relevant to the appropriate audience.
Stick to the Point
What's really useful is to prepare three or four main points which you wish to convey. Write them down on a sticky note and refer to it. Most radio interviews are less than four minutes long so always keep to the point and avoid being drawn into side issues. Always try and take control and use every opportunity to get your message across. Don't wait to be asked the appropriate question.
Give Yourself Time To Think About It
The phone rings, and out of the blue a journalist is on the line asking you some tricky questions about your company's activities. How do you handle it? Your company's reputation may depend on the answers you give. Don't be afraid to call the journalist back rather than talking straight away off the top of your head – but find out when their deadline is and don't leave it too late. Use the time to think through what you should be putting across, particularly in response to any controversial issues that are likely to be raised.
Have Something To Say
If there are controversial issues in your area of expertise, work out where you stand, and what you should say. It is better to respond rather than say "no comment". Don't be afraid to put your point of view across.
Make It Interesting and Relevant
Make your message more memorable by using real stories and examples. Use word pictures. Cut through the clutter with words that paint a picture in the mind of the listener. When you have facts and specifics to back yourself up, you will come over as more authoritative. Remember to stress the points that are likely to interest the listeners or viewers rather than just your own internal messages.
Make it Personable
Use the interviewer's name to make it more personable when answering questions. If you're doing an interview face-to-face use eye contact and try and interest the interviewer in what you're talking about rather than thinking – do I sound OK – do I look alright on TV. If your eyes flicker around during a TV interview, you look uncomfortable, and possibly a bit shifty. If you keep your eye-line focused on the interviewer, you will come over as being in command of your subject. Focus on getting those main points across.
Be Buoyant & Enthusiastic
Be bright and buoyant in your answers – boring answers will probably be edited out and boring interviews will be dropped altogether. You need to be slightly more animated and larger than life. Pep up your delivery so that it is bright and enthusiastic, rather than dull and low-key. Remember broadcasting is a performance! If you do not hold the audience's attention, there are plenty of rival channels people can switch over to.
Mind Your Language
Think about the way you talk in your work life – is your conversation peppered with abbreviations, technical terms and other jargon? For the outside world, this will just not do. Imagine instead that you are chatting to someone who is perfectly intelligent, but who simply doesn't know anything about the subject. People often make the mistake of addressing their remarks to the interviewer (who may be well informed) rather than the audience.
Keep Your Comments Concise
Catchy short answers work best in the media especially for television news. They're known as "grabs" and can be slotted in to a news story. If you watch the news, or listen to radio news, you'll notice that the grabs or "sound bites" are about 5-7 seconds long. If you don't give enough information the journalist will simply ask a follow-up question.
Always make yourself available for radio interviews. Be available to go into the studio for better quality than over the phone. If you're on talkback radio use a landline not a mobile phone and be aware of external noise. When you do radio interviews make sure the background is as quiet as possible.
Warm Up Your Voice
Always take time to warm up your voice so you sound more articulate, intelligent and authoritative. This will give you more confidence.
Call to Action
Most people will remember the opening and closing of a radio interview. Always have a strong closing with a call to action, something you want listeners to do i.e. attend the event or buy the product. And finally remember to smile – when you smile you feel and sound much friendlier – and enjoy it!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sue Currie, the director of Shine Communications Consultancy and author of Apprentice to Business Ace – your inside-out guide to personal branding, is a business educator and speaker on personal branding through image and media. To learn more about how you can achieve recognition, enhance your image and shine, sign up for free monthly tips at http://www.shinecomms.com.au/subscriber.html