Congratulations, you made it! You and/or your business will be in the media. The fact that you were contacted means a lot: You did many things right. Most people are excited at first and then comes the shock: What am I going to say? My career or business might suffer; the journalist might be mean or ask me questions I cannot answer…
Yes, the idea of potentially talking to the entire world is very scary. And we all know the interviews that go really bad. But with a little preparation it will be a success. Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Understand the mind of the journalist A journalist likes a good story, somebody who can speak eloquently and can elaborate on a topic with lots of examples. And guess what? As the journalist has selected you, you do have great expertise. Now it is just a matter of choosing examples that best display your expertise and make the topic clear to the audience. Plus, calm your nerves so you can speak as eloquently as you were born to do! Also: journalists like people who make their job easy. Time is crucial here. If you respond quickly, are available quickly and flexible with times and dates for interviews, the journalists are happy. Journalists really like it if you think about the audience the article/video/report will be addressing. So it is best to void using expert language that no one understands except you and your peers.
2. Clear up the logistics ahead of time, especially for TV interviews You are most likely in a rush. You have already agreed to an interview or are very close to doing so. For camera interviews, clean up the place where the interview will take place and have a back-up location if possible. The camera-person will be thankful if the lighting or some other factor makes filming in your chose location a nightmare and you can offer an alternative. In television, background is very important. As an entrepreneur for example, the media representative probably will ask to shoot in your place of business. And here, they want action. They want to film you with customers, clients, business partners. They want to see you at work. So be prepared if they ask you to film a short scene in which they ask you to play out a quick sequence talking with an employee or client, or pretending you are talking on the phone at your desk. They can use these scenes nicely as cutaways in the final cut. You will make friends with the camera team if you have prepared for something like this and are not in shock when they ask you. Take it as a chance to control the interview and the direction it is taking. Select clothes that reflect the message and image you want to portray ahead of time, have them ready and a back-up selection nearby. As a general rule of thumb, stick to blue, purple and green for colors and avoid black, white and red and bold prints and patterns. For print and radio interviews: Here, logistics aren’t as important but still make sure you are completely undisturbed during the conversation and have eliminated background noises as much as possible (think barking dogs, door bells, computer/smartphone beeps).
3. Prepare your words! Write down 3 things you want to say and all the things you don’t want to say. Especially the last part is important as you want to portray yourself and/or business in the best possible light and being nervous could lead to rambling on about things that are better left unsaid. Having these things written out and consciously making a choice what to say and what not to say helps your unconscious and calms your nerves. Then review the idea behind each of your 3 things to say. Don’t memorize word-by-word however, everyone will notice. Sounding rehearsed will come across as inauthentic, and you definitely don’t want that. Finally: Relax! The journalist may be well prepared and has researched your topic. But it is YOUR story. You experienced it first-hand, not the journalist. If you want to learn more, look out for our downloadable media training programs next month.
In the meantime, check out our compilation of media interview preparation links: