Media Interviews: Be Scared, Just a Little

Our clients are usually either too intimidated by media interviews or are too confident.  Those who are scared are extremely nervous that they will say something foolish and embarrass themselves and their organizations, or that they will be asked a question they can’t answer.  The overconfident ones feel they know their business better than any reporter does, and figure there’s nothing they could be asked that they can’t answer – so they don’t prepare for the interview. Let me define “interview”: any and all discussions with a reporter or editor for a print or online publication, or a radio or TV producer or reporter, or a blogger qualify.

I think it’s better to be intimidated than over-confident.  A little stage fright is like electricity to a light bulb – it gives you energy.   Those who don’t worry at all can

“Don’t jump! I’ve sent the whole staff out to
buy every copy of the paper, so nobody
will read your interview – except in the
online edition, of course.”

get too comfortable. This is dangerous.  People who relax too much in an interview often say too much, giving the journalist more information than she needs. This gives the reporter the chance to select what to use in her story from both important and unimportant information. Or they say things that were best not said outside the company.

The solution to under- and over-confidence is (no surprise) preparation. List the questions you’re likely to be asked and have someone role-play with you so you can practice answering.

If you’re pretty new at being interviewed, or the upcoming interview is a really important one, or if you’re from another country and not used to talking to the American media, consider some professional media training. At a coaching session, a senior communications professional will work with you to plan a strategic approach to your interview, ask you likely questions and help you frame appropriate, succinct responses.  When I coach a client before an interview, I leave plenty of time to discuss the best way to handle the questions my client prays will not be asked.

The worst thing to do is hide from the media because you’re scared. The more you’re interviewed, the better you’ll do, and the less scared you’ll be.

Coming up soon: interview secrets exposed

–Lucy Siegel

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4 Responses to “Media Interviews: Be Scared, Just a Little”

  1. Julie Cole Says:

    I found learning how to deal with the media took a lot of practice. We would do mock interviews, video them and I looked back to see what opportunities were missed. Although it was PAINFUL to watch myself, it was a great teaching tool….actually, Lucy, I think it was one of your Toronto collegues that I did some media training with!!

  2. Julie Cole Says:

    It was Ann! she was great…we looked over all past interviews and videoed some new ones with her interviewing me. We mostly focused on how to shape the interview so that I was able to get out the information I wanted out.

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