Communication skills

10 things to avoid if you want to nail your next media interview

- June 12, 2024 4 MIN READ
A smiling man wearing headphones sits at a table talking into a microphone - media interview

I shared five essential tips for a successful media interview a few years back here so it will come as no surprise that the fundamentals for interview success haven’t changed a bit, explains Samantha Dybac, CEO and founder of The PR Hub

As a founder or CEO, it’s essential you recognise your role as your business’s spokesperson and learn to embrace your discomfort (and the spotlight!) and say ‘yes’ to public speaking opportunities when they arise.

Especially during periods when you are first building your brand, or are navigating a new product or service launch, your responsibilities extend beyond strategy, operations, and leadership. Even a single successful interview can yield substantial benefits.

Mistakes, I’ve made a few

In the early years of The PR Hub, I would often tell myself and others that I was the PR and corporate communications advisor for the best and brightest entrepreneurs and business leaders in the country, so it was they who deserved to be in the spotlight promoting their amazing businesses, not me.

I firmly believed my place was ‘behind the scenes’, a narrative that not only suited my professional inclination but also (conveniently) kept me away from facing and tackling my fear of interviews and being in the spotlight.

How wrong I was. Public speaking in all forms – from media to podcast interviews, speaking opportunities, pitch meetings for investment, even Awards acceptance speeches – plays a role in every business owner or leader’s journey, including mine.

This topic often comes up with new clients and the subsequent journey we go on together to help them understand and master their role as spokesperson is really important for business success.

Here are my top 10 things I recommend avoiding – yes, based on personal experience – when you’re in front of an audience of any kind:

  1. Don’t slouch. Especially when you’re on camera, remember to sit that little bit straighter, squeeze those shoulder blades together, and hold your head high. While you’re thinking about your posture don’t forget to also give some thought to your facial expressions, too.
  2. Don’t wing it. Have key messages that align with your company’s mission and strategic goals ready, and take notes with you if they help you feel more prepared. If you really want to shine then some research on the media outlet and journalist or podcast host is a great way to learn more about the style of interview you can expect and help you feel more confident and better prepared.
  3. Don’t get sidetracked. Stay ‘on topic’ and be prepared to back up your claims. Unless asked, don’t drift onto other news. Keeping your messaging clear and focused will help you stay on track and communicate more effectively. A good rule of thumb we give our clients is to stick to 3-4 sentences max per question.
  4. Don’t lose your cool. Even if the interviewer rubs you the wrong way, which happens to the best of us, keep it together. Be polite and don’t interrupt. If they make a statement you disagree with, speak up (as silence can be interpreted as agreement), but stay calm.
  5. Don’t talk ‘off the record’. Years ago I spoke frankly to a friend/journalist who I thought was a champion of a cause I was working on. Turns out they weren’t and our conversation shaped a major news headline for a client – and not in a good way – lesson learned!
  6. Don’t gesticulate. Use your hands to make a point, but don’t overdo it as gesticulating wildly is distracting for both your interviewer and your audience. Keep your hands (and head) steady!
  7. Don’t go overboard on facts and figures. Data can be interesting but people really connect with stories and storytelling. Share anecdotes and real-life examples to illustrate your points and make your message more relatable and memorable.
  8. Don’t be a robot. Be yourself and don’t be afraid to show your passion and enthusiasm. Authenticity builds trust and resonates more with your audience than a rehearsed, robotic delivery. If you make a mistake or slip on your words, just keep going as more often than not it will only be you who notices.
  9. Don’t show your nerves. Your audience is more interested in the value of your message than in how you sound or look, so concentrate on delivering clear, concise, and valuable content. Subtle adjustments in tone, pacing, and body language can make a significant difference to how your message is received.
  10. Don’t go it alone! Leverage your team. Collaborate to gather insights and data and ask for help with crafting key points and narratives. Rehearse with a trusted colleague or media coach and record your practice sessions to help identify areas for improvement.

By taking an active role in media engagements, you have the power to shape the narrative around your company. This is especially crucial in today’s market where consumers and stakeholders value transparency and authenticity and are far more likely to resonate with a human face and voice.

Through practice, perseverance, and facing my own fears, I gave myself the opportunity to spread my wings, become a confident voice for my business, and also feel really proud of my personal accomplishment. I even launched my own podcast, am now a resident subject matter expert with Kochies Business Builders television series and regularly say yes to hosting panels! If I can overcome my resistance to being the face of my business and all the media that comes with it, then so can you.

This post first appeared on Kochie’s Business Builders. You can read the original here.

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