An interview is never (just) a conversation
Being a freelance journalist next to my day job as a lawyer has blessed me with many fascinating meetings with interesting people from all walks of life. It has also made me acutely aware, sitting on the other side of the table, of the many pitfalls that a media interview may hold for the ill-prepared corporate interviewee. This is basically why I started to give media trainings.
Media training requires you to look at communication in a totally different way than you may be used to.
The basic concept is simple. Not taking into account a myriad of tips and tricks on voice control, soundbites, composure, dress code and body language, there are really only three basic elements that make the difference between a stellar interview or a public disaster:
1. Your key messages (less is more!)
2. Techniques to enable you to “stay on message”
3. Preparation for difficult questions
Bottom line, an interview is not a conversation. It is more like a negotiation or a chess game, but with words instead of pieces.
Hence, you may find there is much about media training that is counter-intuitive:
You do not have to answer the question (but you do have to be “responsive”)
You start with the conclusion (your key messages and then support it with limited detail (this is particularly difficult for engineers)
You use positive words and don’t repeat the negative
It is important to remember that the reporter is not your friend.
Most reporters are paid to be skeptical and pride themselves on their ability to ask the tough questions. It’s important that you do not take an interview personally or become adversarial. Instead, be courteous and calm and reframe any difficult questions into an opportunity to refocus on the key messages that you want to get out there. Being yourself and focusing on your key messages will get you a long way toward interview success.
Do you want to find out more? Care for some media training to prepare for your next interview? Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org