Saying the right thing, sounding intelligent and commanding – that’s the goal of everyone who steps up to the microphone; both the interviewer, who serves up the questions and the interviewee, who volleys back the answers. So what do you need to remember to score points with the interviewer, the audience and come away feeling good about your presentation?
- You are the expert – Stations have booked interviews with you because presumable you have “the” answers. They are looking forward to having you share your advice, tips, opinions, impressions, and experience.
- Be prepared – Know your topic backwards and forwards, have localized information where applicable, facts and figures, statistics, and be able to explain how the average listener can apply or benefit from the information you are sharing.
- Be aware of any negative publicity – Make sure you are aware of issues surrounding or closely related to your industry and anticipate questions that may come up as a result of bad press. Have a plan, a strategy to graciously handle the rare negative attacks.
- Never memorize a string of message points – Under pressure you may go blank. That’s when you are in trouble. Listen to each question and respond accordingly.
- Add personality and humor, where appropriate in your interview – There’s nothing worse than having to “pull” answers from a spokesperson or turn “boring, one-word answers” into a dynamic experience. Be honest with yourself. If you have a more wooden personality, can’t roll with the punches, or aren’t passionate about your subject, don’t go on the air.
- A successful interview will have “give and take” – Interviews are not a one-sided conversation. Interviewers, as well as interviewees have to be careful not to steamroll over each other, but to have the give and take that makes the interview experience enjoyable for both.
- Don’t multi-task while doing a radio interview – Stay focused on the interview, not your watch or your computer.
For those booking interviews, the best thing you can do is give your spokesperson some insight into the station, the interview style of the reporter, producer or host that will be conducting the interview and the reason the interview was booked.
Sometimes reporters have strong personal reasons for doing the interview, or simply strong personal interest in the subject matter. Having that information can make the spokesperson more relaxed about the interview and in tune with the way the reporter is positioning the story.