How did you prepare for your last media interview? Do you do anything differently before going on radio versus television?
Nan Tolbert, executive communication coach at The Communication Center, offers some tips and suggestions for being as successful as possible during both radio and television interviews. No matter what the medium, the most important thing you can do before going “on-air” is rehearse. “You have to know your audience, prepare you messages. You’ve got to anticipate questions, and you’ve got to practice and warm up.”
“I’m always surprised when people tell me they don’t have time to warm up 15 to 30 minutes before an interview,” Tolbert says. “Would you warm up before you went to work out? Play golf? Play ball?”
Just as we rehearsed our multiplication tables in grade school by reading them, writing them and speaking them aloud, we must do the same with our talking points, Tolbert says. “Practice and rehearse. You’ve got to get yourself in the TV media interview zone. When people just say ‘I’ve gone over my talking points a bunch of times’ – that’s not enough.”
There are plenty of similarities in conducting all types of interviews. “Whether you’re doing radio or TV, it is up to you to put a face on the facts,” Tolbert says. “Whether it is print, radio or TV, lead with your headline. You never know when someone may have to cut off.” Tolbert also says keeping your energy level up is critical. “You’ve got to have that energy. People want to know you are engaged with what you’re talking about.”
“A media interview is a 50/50 situation, but you’ve got 100 percent control of your 50,” Tolbert says. “You’ve got to think that you’re telling the story – interrupted by questions.” You have control over what information you give, how you deliver it, your expression, your key points, and giving great examples of the impact of your program.
For radio, Tolbert says one of the most important things you can do is eliminate distractions. The beauty of radio interviews is that they can be done from pretty much anywhere, but that also opens the door to distractions and noises. Have your talking points, but turn off your computer, close your door, and create some privacy.
For television interviews, practice at home before your interviews. Don’t have a broadcast style studio camera? Who does?! Tolbert says we can do so much with our own technology now. Or you can even use your partner and mirror to rehearse. Have him or her ask you questions and rehearse by looking in a mirror as you deliver your answers. “I have people all the time practice at home.”
Another tip to calm pre-interview nerves: Tolbert says visualize your experience the day or two before your interviews. Everything from the setting, to what you’ll be doing, to the types of questions, to who else will be there can be visualized in advance.
Ultimately, you have a unique chance to get out the message you want. “Think about what a great opportunity this is to make sure people hear what you have to say about your program or your organization.”