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  • Writer's pictureTara McCarthy

How to Deliver a Standout Media Interview as Trump Politics Influence Interview Styles

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

How to deliver a Media Interview

Today the best way to stand out in an interview is to use the traditional, tried and true media training techniques that have worked for prominent speakers for decades, if not centuries. As a long-term observer of how prominent people deliver presentations, public remarks and media interviews on television and radio, I’ve noticed a gradual shift toward a more aggressive interview style conducted by the interviewee.

This interview style is a departure from the traditional approach to being interviewed by a journalist. It seems to be driven by Trump representatives who don’t follow conventional media interview-style protocols. A combative interview style, with “alternative facts” and gaslighting creates a more emotionally heightened environment that causes friction between the interviewer and guest and unsettles the audience. Using this style, a spokesperson, can fire-up followers and create fear among those who don’t share those views. This can be effective in achieving objectives, but communication goals can be effectively achieved without acrimony.

Top Three Tips for an Effective Media Interview

In an ocean of chaotic sounding television and radio interviews, the ability to deliver an emotionally stable, professional interview helps you stand out. It also resonates with audiences more positively, can help change perceptions or create perceptions, and contributes to achieving objectives.

We are big believers in a more inclusive, collaborative, and transparent approach to conducting interviews. The public craves the return to a more positive form of public discourse. Listening to a diplomatic, elegant orator like Barak Obama comes as a relief to most audiences, today. Here are some performance improving media interview tips:

  1. Demonstrate leadership: effective leaders are calm, collected and accountable. Whether you are doing a media interview for issues management, crisis management or promoting a new business initiative, keeping a calm, confident demeanor is critical to your media interview success. Body language is just as important as your words so make sure they align.

  2. Be prepared: accountability commands respect and helps persuade the public. Build a positive rapport with your interviewer and audience by coming armed with facts and ready to talk about the more challenging aspects of your story. Be clear, concise and easy to understand. Keep the ideas you are sharing simple and memorable.

  3. Show respect: no matter how challenging the media interview is, approach it with a spirit of magnanimity. View challenging questions as a teaching moment, use a calm tone of voice, engage with your interviewer in a way that shows respect and builds trust with your audience. Leaders are role models, earn the respect of others by demonstrating honesty, accountability and empathy.

Conducting a media interview and working with journalists isn’t as easy as one, two, three. In order to follow the three tips effectively, considerable effort and work must be done in advance. A successful media interview is entirely based on preparation.

The journalist’s job is made easy when her interview subject is authoritative, knowledgeable, and well prepared. She is more likely to let you lead the interview when you proactively deliver the necessary information in response to her questions. This is beneficial because reporters are often assigned interviews at the last minute so they may not have a ton of background or knowledge. It’s your job to deliver the right story with accurate facts and information, regardless of the knowledge of the reporter and the type of questions asked.

Planning your Communications Strategy

A communications strategy is the first step to preparing for a media interview. Media interviews are done with a singular purpose - to achieve an objective. Think about what you want the public to know and work on how to crystalize the ideas into three to five short key messages that are easy to deliver, easy to understand and easy for your audience to recall and share. Think about them as headlines and make sure to share supporting points. Remember, TV and radio interviews are normally three to five minutes, so you need to distill your story into statements that can fully communicate it in a very short amount of time.

A mix of easy and tough questions are sure to come your way. Anticipate them, and prepare your answers. As much as possible, include key messages in your answer. This helps to keep the story you are telling on track. Always be honest and authentic in your approach. If you are doing more than one media interview on the topic, make sure you are consistent. Deliver the same messages, supporting points and anecdotes each time. This makes your story more memorable and impactful.

Know your interviewer. Have a look at the past news coverage done by the journalist, reporter or show host that will interview you. This gets you familiar with the content they produce, their style and personality which helps you adapt your approach, improving the quality of your interview.

Don’t forget you’re trying to win people over. Think about how to do that. Adjust your demeanor accordingly, practice with a colleague and video tape it so you can make sure your words and body language match. Go in with a positive attitude and demonstrate your leadership to the reporter and the audience who is looking to you for accurate information and thought leadership.

Public Speaking Skills Training

Everyone has public personalities that they love. Think about who your favourite speakers are. Find their interviews on YouTube and study them. Write down the techniques they use that impressed you and made it a great interview. Use the same techniques in your own public speaking engagements and media interviews.

Anyone can learn to be a great interview subject and public speaker. If you are willing to view it as skill that you will develop through planning and practice, you will be successful. Even those who are less comfortable in the spotlight, perform well when they are confident in their comments and have put in the time and effort to prepare. When you know your stuff, you’re sure to deliver a good media interview and you’re on the road to achieving your objectives.


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