Pulling off an effortless media interview is harder than it looks.
What are the pros’ secrets to success?
Although news anchors and hosts can make broadcast appearances appear easy to do, there are several myths when it comes to media interviews.
Let’s dispel a few of them:
1. An interview is the same as giving a speech.
It’s often said that giving an interview is comparable to giving a speech in front of a large crowd. This can be true in some ways. For example, you might be nervous beforehand. Also, the more you prepare, the better you’ll do.
In many ways they’re different. When you give a speech, you have full control of what you’ll say. In a media interview, the reporter controls the questions. You must think on your feet and answer them on the spot. Also, during a speech you have the luxury of not focusing on any individual. In a TV interview, a camera is in your face and you must maintain eye contact with the interviewer.
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2. The reporter will share questions in advance, and you can review the interview before it airs.
Unless you paid for an advertising spot, this won’t happen. Reporters must report on the news and keep their audience informed. With shrinking news budgets, they’re often understaffed and overworked.
After your interview they must move to the next breaking news story and edit their digital footage before air time. Consider it a win that a reporter covers your story in the first place.
3. You know what you’re talking about, so you’ll do fine.
Knowing the topic is certainly helpful, but it’s not all you need. You have only so much time to convey your message, so be clear and concise. Remember that many broadcast interviews will be cut into soundbites.
Identify a few key messages and talking points to convey in your own words. Repeat each point into the mirror seven times; that repetition will help you recall them in the heat of the moment.
4. It’s like riding a bike: If you did an interview 10 years ago, you can wing this one.
Doing an interview is more like playing a sport or instrument; the only way to get better is to practice. Try reviewing a media brief with details about the opportunity and tips and tricks for the interview before you go on camera. Practice still makes perfect.