Great! You landed an interview! Now what? There is not a one size fits all for media training or preparing for an interview. However, you can apply a few simple rules to help you ace the interview and give the interviewee great content to work with to create their story!
- Be confident, you most likely know more about the subject than the person interviewing you.
- Reporters are on a very tight deadline and often do not have time to research the topics. (This is where you have the opportunity to drive your message. You have already given them an outline with the press release.)
- Understand the audience and tailor your message accordingly.
- Make sure you have a grasp of what is leading the news of the day in case you are sprung with a topical question on something you hadn’t planned for.
- Always prepare for worst case scenario questions.
- When it feels natural, respond with part of the question in your response. Example: “How do you think you can help make change?” Response: “I believe I can help make change by… “
- Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification on a question.
- If you don’t know the answer it’s OK to say you will get back to them on it. Don’t panic.
- Define your key messages ahead of time and make sure it gets discussed during the interview. It’s OK to ask, “May I add something?” Most reporters will ask at the end of the interview, “Is there anything I missed?” If they don’t, it’s OK to ask nicely.
- Telling stories to go along with a message helps the reporter tell their story. They want the “personal” side.
- TV reporters want VISUAL stories, so any examples you may give make sure there is a way for the reporter to get video of that example. That is how to make sure it does make TV.
- Just because the reporter may turn off the camera, that doesn’t mean the interview is over. Anything you say can be used. YOUR MIC IS ALWAYS ON.
- If the reporter makes a statement you don’t agree with (like in a question to you form) it’s OK to nicely tell them you don’t agree with that. Not clarifying may give the impression you agree.
- Don’t stray from the subject of the interview – that might open up a new line of questioning you don’t want to get into.
- Reporters like facts and figures. Reporters like “real people” stories and examples.
- For live studio interviews / radio shows – ask who else will be on the program with you. This will give you the chance to research them, etc.
- You will most likely NEVER look directly into the camera. You will always look at the person interviewing you. They will tell you this. It helps make the interview feel more like a conversation. There has been times I have done an interview and the person later says, “Are we going to start yet?” and I say, “It’s over!” It will hopefully sound more just like a conversation.
- May sound trivial, but always have water near – dry mouth is killer for the interview.
Remember, you both have the same goal = to have a great TV interview. Contrary to what people may think, the majority of the media isn’t out to get you. With each interview you will get better and doing practice interviews will help you tremendously.
The average TV soundbite is 7 seconds.
I'm a wife, mom, runner and freelance TV producer/writer. I love making the most out of this life and hope you will follow along!