You have been scheduled to do a media interview. Congratulations! This is a great opportunity to gain exposure and after it comes out, you can use the media piece as marketing material. Of course, first you need to get ready.
You might be freaking out or thinking it’s no big deal – neither is an ideal space for giving good interviews. As been written many times before, excellence is a habit. These five practices will help you get prepared and perform with confidence and clarity.
1. Enter each interview like you would for an important meeting
The biggest mistake you can make is thinking that an interview is going to be a piece of cake. Just answer the reporter’s questions, maybe we’ll chit chat, and everything will be fine. This kind of thinking can often leads to the biggest mistakes. When you lapse into conversation, you never know where the conversation will go, or what you’ll say. To have an effective interview, you need be focused.
Think about the interview like you would for a critically important business meeting with someone you’re meeting for the first time. Think strategically. Ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish? What impression are you trying to make? What do you want the reporter to take away from the interview?
2. Know who you are talking to and what they want to talk about
Reporters are usually very open to being asked what they want to talk about in advance of the interview. It’s in reporters’ interests to have you prepared so that you can give comments that are relevant to their piece. Ask them what they want to focus on and what perspective they want to hear from you.
Do research about the reporter and the outlet he or she is from. If the reporter is from a business magazine, the questions will have a different focus than from a reporter at a personal technology magazine. Go online and read the reporter’s past media pieces. Check out their tweets, blog posts and other social media they are on and find out what they are thinking about. These kinds of efforts will give you valuable clues about their interests and what kinds of questions you’ll get.
3. Write down what you want to say
To give the interview focus, you need to have your messages written down in advance. This will allow you to craft your messages exactly how you would like them to appear in the final media piece. If they are interesting and use catchy phrasing, there’s a good chance they will end up in the final product. Without messages, your statements will probably be less coherent and more likely to be inconsistent across the interviews you give. Consistency is important as repeated messages help ensure that are you are remembered when audiences hear you across different mediums.
4. Practice, practice, practice…and practice some more
Rehearse your prepared messages and think about answers to questions that you’ll likely be asked. Read your messages and answers aloud to someone else who can give feedback or to a recording device so you can hear yourself. If you’re going on TV, videotape yourself and you see how you appear on camera. Many really hate listening to and watching themselves in recordings but if you can get over this, it will give you huge insight into how you sound and appear.
5. Chill out
This is a bit of a catch 22 – you can’t relax if you are not confident, and you can’t be confident if you don’t relax. The key is to prepare as much as possible. Learn as much as you can about your interviewer, go over your messages, and practice them out loud. At certain point, you need to stop and trust that you’ve done the work that needs to be done. When you do this, you will be more relaxed, more confident and you’ll be better prepared to answer questions.
Follow these five practices before every interview, and you’ll be great shape to represent yourself and your organization in top form.