Eight tips for better media interviews

London - 12th May 2016 - Few people do it well. Most muddle by. Some make a real mess of it. Many organisations want to be seen as thought leaders, a first point of contact for the media when a relevant news story breaks. But there aren’t many people who volunteer for media interviews. It’s a shame. It’s not that hard, or indeed difficult as long as you know what you’re doing.


I’ve coached some real media experts over the last twenty years or so, but most have been less experienced, and full of anxiety about talking to the media. I’ve been on your side of the camera too. During my spell as director of external relations for the National Society of Epilepsy I was interviewed by print journalists, spoke on local and national radio, and live TV. Yes, I was nervous, indeed I’d be concerned if I had a client who wasn’t a little nervous about appearing on live national TV.


My training courses help people understand what makes a good spokesperson, and help them to improve their interview technique. But if you need a few quick tips, feel free to use any of those that follow.
1.       Always have three key messages, each of which you can articulate in less than ten seconds
2.       Speak slowly, and don’t be afraid of silence
3.       Have key facts and figures on a piece of paper in front of you. It’s amazing how the mind can go blank under pressure
4.       Don’t get drawn into a war of words. If you’re asked to comment on a competitor’s strategy, respond by saying that’s for them to answer, and state your own position
5.       Use examples and comparisons to illustrate a complex point
6.       Regardless of the medium, don’t be afraid to summarise your key points as you sense the interview approaching its close
7.       Smile if you’re on TV. It doesn’t just say you’re nice, it shows that you are calm and in control, and can be trusted
8.       Pause before answering a question. Again, don’t be afraid of silence. It shows you are actually thinking before giving your considered answer
It does take some practice, and most people only speak to the media a couple of times per year, so it's easy to fall out of practice. Scheduling the occasional warm-up interview, either with a media trainer, or a media-savvy colleague, is strongly recommended.