I’ve never stumbled upon a media guest who’s not been unhappy with the results of an on-camera interview. Most feel they looked nervous or uncertain, bumbled over their words or didn’t get across with clarity, or the interviewer focused on the wrong stuff.
- Rehearse and practice. Prepare for your interview by dress-rehearsing through your talking points with a colleague. Record it, review the footage, and look at your articulation and body language. Do you appear calm, coherent, and confident?
- Television draws attention to your posture, energy, and facial expression. Keep eye contact. Focus on the person asking the questions and not on the camera. The more your eyes move around, the less trustworthy you’ll appear. Align how you look with how you want to be perceived—dress in a dark suit to appear serious, roll your sleeves up to appear hard-working, and don a polo shirt if your message is fun and informal.
- Know your message. Before the interview begins, decide on the three key points you want to get across and stick with them. Three is easy enough to remember. It’ll prevent you from getting caught up in the conversations in your head.
- Figure out your story. Think through the essence of what it is you need to communicate. Get your facts straight. Think about what you are trying to get across and how you can make that story relevant and understandable to your audience.
- Restrain yourself from thinking aloud. Keep your anecdotes short; don’t overestimate the fascination your audience will have with your personal life stories.
- Avoid verbal fillers such as “um” and “ah” that can really hurt how you come across.
- Allow yourself a second to collect your thoughts and structure your answer. Resist the temptation to think of additional details as you narrate the answer. You can provide a consistent and well-reasoned answer by sticking to the details and structure you had planned for. Be concise. Do not ramble on. Keep your soundbites short and your anecdotes simple.
- Be prepared to be interrupted and sidetracked. If you have nothing to say about something, say nothing. Better still, if you know what you’ll be interviewed for, have something substantial to say about it and say it regardless of the questions you’re asked. Use transitional phrases such as “I think the real question is …,” “What’s important here is,” or “Let me draw attention to” and redirect the conversation if necessary.
If you’re in a position that requires you to speak to the media often, take a course or get a coach who can train you on becoming an effective spokesperson. An excellent resource is Media Training Bible (2012) by media trainer Brad Phillips.