Think of all the constituents — current and potential customers, future business partners and team members, influential community leaders, to name a few — you can reach. If you haven’t shown your subject matter expertise in a TV, radio or podcast interview, you should.
I’ve had broadcast interview prep on my mind recently. I recently helped a client prepare for a radio interview. We wrote questions that we wanted the hosts to ask, and together on the phone we practiced the answers. I also recently met a fellow former journalist turned entrepreneur, and we talked a lot about what it takes to have a successful broadcast interview.
From all that time thinking, here are three essential tips for preparing for and nailing your next broadcast interview.
1. Research the outlet and the show.
Find out all you can about the outlet and the program, including the TV or radio station and that actual show, segment or podcast. Watch or listen to as many past episodes as you can. Who are the hosts? Are they the ones who will interview you? When they call you by name, for goodness sake you want to be able to call them by name, too.
What is the format? Are there standard questions they always ask? How long is the segment? How long are stories within each segment and how are they paced? You want to know this so you when you practice responses you have an idea of what you are shooting for in terms of time.
You have to know what you are getting into. Sitting down with Hoda and Jenna on the Today Show (or a similar local program) is going to feel entirely different than standing on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange with CNBC reporters (or something comparable).
2. Take as much control of the interview as you can before it even begins.
When you or your PR pros pitch to the show producers, write every email as if it will be read verbatim on air, because it could. For starters, think of the email subject line as the teaser the segment. Write something provocative.
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Many shows will let you write and submit talking points, so that hosts know what to ask you. Do this even if the producers don’t ask you. You want to plant the seeds for the direction you want the interview to take. That way you get your message across and get to answer the very questions you practiced over and over.
It’s important to know your goal for a particular interview, which will, of course, help shape your talking points. Are you highlighting a new product or an upcoming event? Do you want to drive people to a new website? Are you trying to establish or promote your expertise?
Lastly, in every email to the producer, reiterate your name, title and company name for attribution. Don’t make the producer dig through a long email conversation for these details. You don’t want the reporter to flub your name on air. You don’t want your name, company name or website to be misspelled in any on-screen graphics.
3. Practice, practice, practice.
Record and practice your answers. You can use a tape recorder or iPhone. Or if your company has access to a studio or video equipment, use those for recording and playing back your own mock interview. Time your responses and check your responses against your notes. Did you get in all the points you hoped to make? Is there a quicker, easier way to say something?
Make sure to practice out loud questions you hope not to be asked but could be asked. After all, you wouldn’t go into a job interview without having an answer some version of “Why are you looking for a new job?” or “Why are you currently unemployed?”
Jennifer Moxley, former TV reporter and now owner of Sunshine Media Network in Charlotte, North Carolina, recommends transcribing your verbal practice answers so that you can see areas of weakness, including fluff words like “definitely” or “actually.”
“You may satisfy your interviewer, you may satisfy your brain, but with fluff answers you don’t achieve your goals,” she said.
I’d add “literally” and “unique” to that list as they are almost never true. I’d also include “interesting” as I find most people use that word when they have little else to say or are at a loss for better words.
Bottom line: Research. Control. Practice.
That’s it. That’s all there is to having a successful broadcast interview. Now there are no more excuses for not going after the limelight you deserve.
Oh, and once you nail your broadcast interview, book another one.
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