1. Know your key messages
What are you trying to communicate? Identify the major points you want to get across and learn them. You only need a couple, but get them down pat.
Who will be interviewing you? What do they tend to cover? Will the interview be print, audio, video, social media or television? Is it live or pre-recorded? What do they hope to learn from you? Are you the right person to do the interview or is someone else within your company or organisation more appropriate? Do your homework and answer these questions in advance.
Take the time to run through your key messages. Practice what you want to say and the answers to what you think the journalist will ask you. If you don’t have access to a media trainer, practice in front of a mirror, or before an audience of friends or family.
4. Don’t be side tracked
Use the bridging technique to stay on message. Be honest if you don’t know something but suggest you will find the answer and get back to the journalist asap. Don’t make things up or lie. It will only come back to haunt you. Be yourself and be honest. If there is something you cannot reveal because of confidentiality, commercial or security reasons, simply say so.
5. Think about how you look
Dress appropriately for what you are saying. If in a TV studio find out the backing colours so you don’t melt into the background and look like a ‘talking head’. Say yes to face powder if offered, studio lights can be hot and make you look sweaty and ‘on the ropes’. If the interview is outside – always check what is behind you. Does it send the right message? Don’t wear shades or light reacting glasses – you will look guarded. It is your interview so take control of your position looking into bright sunlight etc. Avoid distracting earrings or lapel badges and tie back wayward hair if it risks getting out of control in the breeze – you want viewers to listen to your key messages, not focus on what you are wearing or what’s going on around you.
6. Maintain eye contact
Keep eye contact with your interviewer as much as possible. If you’ve learnt your key messages properly you won’t need notes – interviews always look and sound better without distracting pieces of paper being used as a crutch.
7. Stay on message
Remember your messages and stay on point as much as possible. Try not to go off piste with less relevant information. You only have a short amount of time to get your key messages across so use it wisely. Remember whatever you say to a journalist may be considered on the record, even when the recording equipment is switched off and the note pad packed away.
8. Take your time
You don’t have to rush to answer a question. Pause to collect your thoughts, breathe and then answer. Speak slowly and clearly. Don’t fall into the trap of using abbreviations and industry jargon. It will only confuse. Remember it’s your interview so take control and enjoy it.
Contact us if you have any questions, we’re happy to help if you’re concerned or unsure about an up and coming media encounter.