Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail. 

What is the first thing that comes into your mind when asked to do a radio interview? What will I say? how will I say it? How will I sound? Will I be nervous?

During our media interview training courses, we encourage participants to ask themselves: What is the subject? What do they want to know? What should I tell them? How will I communicate my message(s) and make an impact? What questions am I likely to be asked and what are the most difficult questions likely to be fired at me?

Business executives, representatives of organisations, politicians and individuals sometimes don’t realise the work that goes into preparing for a media interview. 

They have the knowledge,  expertise and experience on their particular topic to share with the media, readers, viewers and listeners. How do you decide what to say and how to say it simply, effectively and credibly? It takes lots of hard work, time and patience to perfect a positive message. Remember, it is not what you say but how you say it that is important.

Regardless of how much knowledge and experience you may have the most important piece of advice for anybody doing a media interview is preparation. You will trip yourself up if you don’t take the time out to prepare diligently irrespective of the length of the interview or the media outlet concerned. Reputations can be enhanced or destroyed in a matter of seconds.  A throwaway word or phrase or hesitant response can do untold damage to a brand or individual’s reputation. Give the same time and preparation regardless of whether it is a community, local or national radio station.

These are just some questions you should ask yourself:

* What media outlet wants to do the interview?

* What is the angle to the interview?

* What do I want to say on the subject?

* How long is the interview?

* If it is a soundbite will I communicate one message or try two?

* If it is a three to five-minute interview what are the messages I want to convey?

* Who is the interviewer? What is their interviewing style?

*How will I prioritise my messages in terms of importance?

* Have your facts and statistics to support your answers.

And finally, ask yourself what is the most difficult questions I can be asked on the particular subject? Be honest.

Once you have decided on your message(s) and you prioritise them,  rehearse your answers and remember brevity and clarity are key. Use ladybird English.  Simple words and reasonably short sentences. Try to avoid using clichés and well-worn, outdated phrases. Above all, avoid using industry jargon. You understand it, but the interviewer and listener doesn’t. And they are your audience.

And here are some more tips:

* Write your message(s) as bullet points. One word if possible or else one sentence. Do Not read from a prepared script.

* Avoid a sheaf of papers. Rustling through them trying to find the answer to a question indicates you don’t have the answer. Listeners don’t want to listen to paper noise.

* Have a glass of tepid water, NOT cold beside you if you are in an office or room. Cold water dries the mouth.

* Speak slowly and clearly and speak in your normal speaking voice.

Media training should form an integral part of your internal staff training programmes should you be expected to deal with the public.

Our next blog will deal with the different techniques for studio, telephone and outside broadcast interviews. Thinking on your feet, handling supplementary questions, dealing with nerves.

To request further information on our media training courses email: ken@kencurrancommunications.ie or call +353872904982.