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Top five interview no-nos

You’ve been invited to comment on a topic that’s your bread and butter – you could talk about this subject underwater, til the cows come home, for a month of Sundays.  But what might bring the whole process unstuck and mean the interview goes down like a lead balloon*?

Here’s a few deal-breakers that could see the whole event fall flat:

  1. You don’t listen to the questions. I hear talent do this way too often. Perhaps you’ve got a theme stuck in your mind or a message you’d like to weave into the conversation which causes you to forget one of the golden rules of being an interviewee, which is this: listen, then answer the question put to you, not the one you’d prefer you were asked.
  2. You make the interview about you. Unless the interview is about you and your business (or book) you’re there to speak as an expert in your field. This means dropping comments or brand names which relate to you or your business is a big no-no. Commercial media already has ad-breaks – they don’t need more in the editorial part of their programming and the ABC just doesn’t do brands very well at all.
  3. You speak too quickly. It’s natural to speak more quickly if you’re nervous and during an interview that can mean the difference between success and failure. If the audience can’t understand you or if they don’t have enough time to digest your words, there’s a good chance you’ve lost them. Remember to pause…..and breathe.
  4. You haven’t done your homework. Generally, when you’re invited to speak on a topic there’ll be context available to you which will enable to speak with authority on your area of expertise. This means reading the news story or study that applies to your topic and might also mean doing some extra research for added impact. Make sure you check the interview parameters with the producer or journalist before your start. If you’re unsure, ask them to email you the story or questions they’re basing their interview on.
  5. You’re late or not available at the appointed time. This really goes without saying but…the golden rule of media is to be on-time. If you need to be on location – be early – that way you’re not rushing and the media you’re engaging with isn’t stressed about whether you’re coming or not. If you’re doing a radio interview, don’t get stuck on a phone call when you know you should be clear for their call. If you’re a no-show or not available it’s unlikely you’ll be asked back.

If you’d like to some help improving your performance in front of the camera, behind the microphone or on the phone, contact us about bespoke media training. We’ll help ensure your next media appearance is a memorable one, for the right reasons.

*And don’t lapse into clichés and meaningless fluff like I did in the introduction to this piece. Practice brevity and use language with meaning and impact. 

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