Being interviewed on camera can be the most nerve-wracking of experiences, but lots of preparation – and the right kind of preparation – can be paramount to on-camera success. Whether you’re the one on camera or you’re helping someone prep for their turn on TV, here are some excellent, timeless interview preparation tips from Johna Burke. Remember that these are basic tips, and that a video camera is the best “tool” in your public relations toolbox.
Practice: Successful message development and delivery depends on preparation. Think through how you will respond to tough or hostile questions by developing and practicing clear, honest and appropriate answers.
Conclusions: Prepare and present your conclusion throughout the interview. Just as you wouldn’t bury the lead you can’t “hope” the interviewer will ask you the perfect question.
Avoid Jargon: Instead of using industry jargon speak in simple lay terms.
Key messages: Prepare, understand and practice key messages. Return to key messages as often as possible – Think Bill Clinton not Gary Condit.
Deal with difficult questions: Some questions can’t be given a straight answer, but avoiding the question looks bad too. Bridging and Blocking are very effective assets.
Bridging: Maintain control of the interview with the use of these common bridging phrases -
“Before we leave the subject, let me add that …”
“And the one thing that is important to remember is …”
“While…is important, it is also important to remember r…”
“It’s true that … but it is also true that …”
Blocking: Never say “no comment” – it’s an obvious don’t. Instead, simple blocking allows you to focus the conversation. Common blocking phrases include:
“I think what you’re really asking is…”
“That’s an interesting question, and to put it in perspective…”
“I don’t have precise details, but what I do know is…”
Never Repeat Negative Questions: Always frame your answer in the positive. Think about sound bites.
Stick to your message: Simple is better. Avoid the expert trap of over-answering. Work on test questions and learn when to stop talking.
Remove distractions: Technology is wonderful, but even the most seasoned interviewee can’t fight the Pavlovian response of the flashing red light or the subtle vibration that a message has arrived to their mobile device.
Relax: Be calm, confident and conversational.
Remember that video magnifies the strengths and weaknesses of your interview skills, so on-camera dry runs can help you feel more comfortable and add extra polish to your presence.
Do you have any tips or tricks for media training?