There are plenty of ways to ensure you get the best from your media interview.
- Pause before answering. Take a brief moment to consider your response. Even for radio and television, this pause will seem thoughtful and natural.
- Talk in short sentences. When you’re speaking you might not realize how long your statement is. It’s easy to go on, especially when you get nervous – this is why it’s so important to have your key points and messages ready ahead of time. If you’re interviewing over the phone, have them printed out in front of you; you never know when your computer might crash.
- Use a lot of character and expression in your voice. Your voice is your tool to grab attention.
- Watch for “UM” and “Uh” – can ruin a sound bite. Try to practice getting used to silence. Take a deep breath before you answer. How you perceive silence is usually longer than it actually is.
- Watch for ending statements as questions. Makes you sound unsure of the facts.
- Pay attention to your body language. Watch hand gestures, Sit with ankles crossed, not legs. And watch your posture. Even in positive interview situations, interviewees sometimes look tense or stiff, which can have a big impact on credibility. If there is time, do some exercises or walk around to relax your body before the interview.
- Don’t argue or interrupt. You don’t have to agree, but don’t argue either. And don’t interrupt. However if you’re being interviewed with another person, that is another matter. You may need to jump in when that other guest is talking to correct misinformation or to comment.
- Don’t ask to approve the story before it’s published. This will make you look unprofessional. Journalists will sometimes fact-check information with you, so you can volunteer to be available for any further questions or fact-checks if the journalist wishes.
- And remember, there is no such thing as “Off the record” and “No response. The only information a journalist can quote you on is what comes out of your mouth, so never say anything to them that you wouldn’t want in published or aired.