Taking your place behind the camera or microphone can be daunting, especially when you have a journalist firing off questions about your brand. While you may never lose the butterflies in your stomach, a few tips can leave you feeling calm and in control of your media interview.
This is why media training is essential for any organisation spokesperson. A concise, articulate and effective spokesperson makes the company you represent look good. This way, the media will see you as a credible source of information.
This training provides techniques to help you become an effective communicator during your interactions with media representatives, ensuring you effectively respond, clearly communicate key messages and reduce the chance of being misquoted.
Follow these five tips to help you become a credible, confident spokesperson during media interviews:
Plan, plan, plan
The person who speaks on behalf of the company should have a considerable amount of knowledge about the company and issue at hand. To come across as informed and professional, make sure that you prepare all the facts ahead of the interview. You might want to sit down with representatives across all departments to ensure you have all the details at hand.
From that research, enlist three points that will inform the key messages you wish to address during the interview. Try and visualise a triangle with a key message on each side – it is often easier to remember information that you have visualised.
Nothing is ever “off the record”
It’s good to make small talk before or after the show and during ad-breaks but be mindful of what you say and how you say it. A conversation may appear to be harmless but, because your guard is down, you might say something that can be used against you later. If need be, stick to talking about safe generic topics such as the weather, traffic, studio set-up or sports. Also avoid personal topics such as race, religion or ethnicity to avoid discrimination claims.
How you look matters
Your physical appearance, with the inclusion of outfit, make-up and hair, plays an important part in how viewers will remember you. How you look might draw attention to or detract from what you are saying. Things show up more clearly in high-definition screens and what might seem like a nice brightly coloured top, might appear too exuberant on the other side of the camera. Avoid black and white, thin stripes, check, polka dots or heavily patterned clothing. Also avoid wearing written or heavily branded clothes, except for your own company logo. Pastel colours work well on television and blue is always a win. The cameras will capture you from wide and close-up angles so be mindful of what you wear from head to toe.
Body language speaks volumes
Be aware of your body and gestures, as your body language can easily distract viewers from what you’re saying, or make your message seem insincere. People tend to sway from side-to-side during an interview and a good way to avoid this is to put one foot slightly in front of the other. Having a good posture makes you look alert, engaged and interested in the conversation. If you are sitting in an armchair, sit upright, slightly leaning forward and plant your feet firmly on the floor in front of you. When standing, place your feet one foot slightly in front of the other.
Be careful of nodding while the presenter speaks, as it might be interpreted as your agreement with their premise when you weren’t intending to do so. Maintain good eye contact and avoid making gestures expansively or very suddenly. Keep them natural and subtle. If you are doing a virtual interview, make it a point to look directly into the camera, rather than your computer screen. Looking at yourself on the screen will show that your eyes are looking elsewhere, disinterested in the interview and may cause a disconnect
Maintain control of the interview
Sometimes the interviewer can go off-track and ask questions that are incorrect or focus on a topic that you’d rather not discuss. Keep calm and use expressions such as “That is incorrect, what transpired was … …”. Alternatively, point out the most important aspect by outlining your key message with a response such as “Yes, but more importantly…”. Rather ask the interviewer to repeat the question, than answer incorrectly, but saying: “I want to make sure I’m answering this correctly. Can you please repeat your question?”
A media interview is your opportunity to deliver your message in a powerful way. This message is conveyed with not just your words, but with your body language and tone. Not taking these elements into consideration can just as easily detract from the credibility of your message.
Journalists may be daunting, but with good media training, such as that supplied by Positive Dialogue, you can handle any interview, on any media platform.