3 steps for a more confident media interview
by WordWrite Staff, on Jan 16, 2020
Media interviews aren’t easy. On-camera interviews are even more intimidating.
So how do you stop dreading phone calls from the media?
Interviewing is like writing. It’s a skill you should practice. Sure, you could wing it, but that puts you at risk for saying something you didn’t mean and it’s a missed opportunity to share your most important points. When we help our clients with media training, we provide the tools to make every interview a seized opportunity.
But it all starts with one very important element: confidence.
Some people are simply born with that self-assurance, but it’s not innate in us all. Follow these three steps to capture that oh-so-satisfying feeling in your next meeting with the media.
1. Practice for the real thing
Even the best speakers can get clammy hands and sweats when staring into a camera lens under bright, hot lights. In addition to remembering talking points, interviewees also need to be aware of their surroundings, body language, clothing, and the microphone and earpiece set-up. That’s a lot to think about — and it’s even more difficult when you have zero experience. The key, as with most skills, is practicing.
With a big hand from our partners at Pittsburgh Video Tech Center, owned by PSSI Global Services and operated by Cortron Media, we stage authentic media interview scenarios for clients at the center’s state-of-the-art studio downtown, where they frequently host live satellite broadcast interviews for the major news networks. If you’re lucky, you might cross paths with Dr. Cyril Wecht or MSNBC host Ali Velshi, who often stop by for their interviews.
The real stars of the center, though, are Lou Cordera and Rob O'Brien, the media and production specialists who share invaluable advice, making you look like a polished professional. From tips on how to hide wires, to being mindful of facial expressions and, of course, remembering the golden rule, the microphone is always on, you’ll feel comfortable and in control when walking into a studio for your next interview.
2. Succinctly seize the opportunity
The next easy way to instill confidence? Messaging.
There are many key items to listen for when speaking with a reporter, and it’s crucial, especially with broadcast journalists, that your responses are short, concise and ear-worthy. We call these soundbites. Think of a news report you’ve watched recently. In that 90-second report, you might have seen the reporter interview someone, but have you noticed how short their response is? Usually 5 to 10 seconds. Media training is a great way to practice cutting down your key messages to ensure you’re sharing the most important points in ways that catch the attention of the reporter and the audience watching.
There’s a common question most reporters ask and, believe it or not, most people skip over: “Do you have anything else to add?” Most interviewees respond with “nope, I’m all set,” which is a missed opportunity. This is your chance to repeat a key point or clarify an answer to a question you may have stumbled through earlier. Again, this is where confidence comes in. When you’re confident in speaking with the media and know what you want to say, it’s easy to take advantage of freebie questions like this one.
3. Expect the unexpected
What if you’re asked a tough question? You’re probably a pro when it comes to talking about your company, who they are and what they do (or maybe you’re not, and you can practice this standard messaging, as well). No matter your situation, media training provides a safe place to frame responses to questions that might otherwise slip you up. And as we know, it only takes one bad media interview to damage a reputation or brand.
We help our clients lock down messaging and share techniques for transitioning back to their messaging when asked these difficult questions. Instead of saying, “No comment,” we can help you formulate responses that give you the platform to say what you want without having to ignore the reporter’s question.
Media training is also the perfect time to practice crisis scenarios and how to respond when a reporter drops by in the midst of chaos. Our clients find trainings helpful in hammering out thoughtful language, which keeps them looking cool and collected when handling a crisis.
These are just some of the items we discuss in our media trainings, which are customized for companies and specific scenarios they want to be prepared for. Whether you’ve never had a training or you just want to work on tightening your messaging, we can help build your confidence. Our team makes it a fun day and, if you’re brave enough, you can even take home your very own copy of your interviews to stash away with your home movies for a rainy day.
Learn more about our Chapter Series on media training here, or feel free to reach out to me directly with any questions!