Top tips for preparing and doing media interviews

Over the years I have helped many people prepare for media interviews and I have been interviewed myself hundreds of times on tv, radio and with print media.  Media interviews can be a great opportunity to get your message across but they can also go horribly wrong.  I hope my advice on how to prepare and tips for doing interviews will help make sure your next media appearance is a triumph that you’ll want all your colleagues and friends to hear about.

What kind of interview is it?

To help you prepare, you need to think about what you are preparing for.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the interview on TV, radio, for printed media or another format, such as online?
  • Is the interview live or recorded?
  • How long is the interview?
  • What is the format – is it just you and the interviewer or are others involved?
  • Who is the interviewer and do I know anything about their style and approach (if you don’t, you could look them up online)?
  • Where is the interview taking place?

What do you want to say?

 Take a few minutes to jot down some notes, asking yourself these questions:

  • What is the purpose of doing this interview?
  • What is the main thing I want to say?
  • What information, evidence or examples do I have that will support the point I want to make?
  • What questions is the interviewer likely to ask – from easy to difficult – and how will I respond?

Practice

  • Take a few minutes to talk out loud about the points you want to make in the interview.
  • Ask a friend or a colleague to ask you some practice questions.
  • Record your practice using your phone.

Doing the interview – ten tips

  1. Stay calm and polite.
  2. Speak slowly, you might be tempted to go too fast so slow it down.
  3. Use single, clear sentences to make your point.
  4. Enumerate if you have a complex point to make, e.g. “I think there are three key issues here…”
  5. Use examples and personal experiences and insights.
  6. Correct the interviewer if they make inaccurate statements.
  7. Stop talking when you’ve made your point, don’t keep going, even if the reporter leaves a gap.
  8. Don’t always accept the premise of the question.
  9. Avoid repeating negative questions back at the interviewer before answering them.
  10. Remember that the dictaphone, microphone or TV camera might still be running after you think you’ve finished.

If you would like help preparing for a media interview, media training, or advice on your media strategy please contact Andy Sawford, Chief Executive of Connect on a.sawford@connectpa.co.uk.


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Andy Sawford