Giving a great media interview, whether on TV, radio or in print, can be an art form. It takes a lot of behind-the-scenes preparation to get a command of your material and to perfect the right delivery. It can also take several interviews to really get comfortable with the process.
Yet many people don’t give interviews very often and others may be thrust into a pressing timeline, making preparation difficult. With that in mind, giving a great media interview can be boiled down into a few steps:
Create 3 key messages.
No matter what you are communicating, simplicity and consistency is always the best approach. By boiling down all the things you could say about your topic into the three most important points, all your comments can be focused on your top priorities. This will help ensure your audience gets the right information. It also helps you stick to the facts and keep your answers succinct, so they can be easily quoted or reused as soundbites.
It may be obvious to respond truthfully to questions from the media, but you can get caught off guard when asked a question you don’t know. Instead of trying to answer off the cuff or from what you think you know, it’s perfectly fine to say you don’t know, as long as you follow it with “but I will find out and get back to you.” And then follow through on that promise as soon as possible. Never guess, estimate or speculate. And never say “no comment.” It sounds suspicious, even when the situation isn’t suspicious at all. Rather, say “I don’t know, but I’ll find out and get back to you.”
Take a breath.
There’s nothing worse for a reporter or a listener/viewer than trying to decipher what someone is saying. Facts will get missed, people will tune out. Remind yourself throughout your interview to speak slowly, pausing occasionally for emphasis. When responding to questions, take a breath before each answer. It’s okay to use that time to collect your thoughts and formulate your answer.
Know your mood.
Your audience and the media will not only respond to the words you use, but to the tone with which you say them. Be sure your mood matches the information you are sharing (e.g., a crisis will require a different tone than a celebratory event). Yet, no matter what your message is, the best plan is to be thoughtful and to speak slowly. The calmer you sound, the more authoritative, knowledgeable and in control you will appear.