Plan, Prepare and Practice

Let me think … I know what I want to say … I just can’t seem to find the right words …

Live interviews are few and far between for most of us. Generally when our clients participate in a media interview, it is taped or will be used in print or online. We have some time to think about what we’d like to say and how we’d like to say it. There are plenty of opportunities for editing. Why is this important?

We should rarely have to think aloud!

How many times have you seen an interview where the person is asked a direct question, then goes on and on with other points and sometimes never gets to the answer. It could be an avoidance tactic, but in many cases, it’s simply a lack of good preparation. The interviewee hasn’t thought about what he or she might be asked. Good preparation can help you avoid these situations.

How do you prepare?

1. Think about why you’ve been asked to participate in an interview. What story are you expected to tell? … Did you just publish a book? Did your company just lay off some employees? Did your client just launch a new sandwich? The answer to this question will help you determine what you might be asked. Make a list of predictable questions, then jot some notes about your answers. Predict the dialogue! In addition, you can always ask the reporter for a list of questions prior to your discussion. Many times, the interviewer will share this information because he knows that good preparation makes for a better, more interesting interview.

2. Determine what you want to achieve in the interview. Why are you participating? If your key audiences watch this show or read this website, prioritize 2-3 messages that you want to share with them. The media is simply a vehicle that leads you to your target audiences. The media is not the audience.

3. Make your 2-3 priority messages interesting, and consider some stories to help bring them to life. You won’t have a lot of time to share your points, so preparation is important. People can only retain small amounts of information, so don’t bombard them with a lot of points. Find a brief, interesting way to articulate your messages. Consider some real-life stories that illustrate or add some interest value to them.

4. Practice, practice, practice. Literally rehearse getting your points across and you’re more likely to articulate your messages properly when the pressure is on. And unlike the coach in the cartoon, don’t tell the audience something that you don’t want them to think about!

Plan ahead, prioritize, and practice, and you’ll hit your points with ease.

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Plan, Prepare and Practice

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