If you are a corporate CEO or a spokesperson for a major company, if you are discussing highly controversial topics or if you are running for elective office, take a media training course.
But—if you are a person who does a random, occasional segment on radio or TV, here are a few quick tips:
- Always consider: What’s your agenda? Why are you doing the interview? What are the main points you want to share with listeners/viewers? Remember, it’s their show and their station, but you should have a short list of things you want to be sure to include within your answers.
- Provide the producer and/or interviewer with a fact sheet containing basic information about you and your organization. If you are appearing to talk about an event, make sure that all details of the event are passed along before the interview, so the info can easily be shared with the audience onscreen and/or on the web.
- Answer questions briefly. Don’t tell everything you know in one answer. Don’t digress into “and by the way” trivia that doesn’t matter.
- Be prepared for off-the-wall questions. Don’t panic if the interviewer asks something goofy. If he or she is trying to be funny, play along. If you are taken aback by a truly bizarre question, just laugh and say, “Wow, I have no idea how to answer that!”
- If you are asked a question that you don’t want to answer—even in friendly interviews you may be asked about a sensitive issue—do not say, “No comment.” Instead say something like, “I don’t have all the information about that. Let me get back to you.”
- Don’t worry about the technical stuff. The broadcasters will handle that. Just remember that it’s generally better to be closer to a microphone than to be far away.
- Try to maintain a conversational tone. If you stumble over a word or two or are slow to answer a particular question, that’s okay. Remember: it’s better for your interview to sound like a spontaneous chat rather than a series of memorized sound bites.