Interview skills - Think before you speak!

Interviews can be nerve-wracking even at the best of times, but if you’re lacking in confidence they can be doubly difficult. This handy article has some top tips for giving the best performance you can when under pressure.
Aug. 7, 2012 - PRLog -- Radio and television interviews are very similar to their newspaper equivalent, with one big difference.  It’s not just what you say, but how you say it and how you look while you say what you’re saying that you need to think about.

In other words, presentation skills come into play.

You can have a strong and important message, but weak or lacklustre delivery may mean it has little impact on the audience.  Conversely, a really weak message can have clout and impact if delivered in a robust and confident way.

So what are the ground rules of giving an effective broadcast interview?

First, preparation.  Found out what sort of interview it is, where you’re require to be and how long the interview is.  If it’s a controversial issue, try and find out if anyone else is appearing with you.

Decide what you want to say.  Whittle your list of points down to  three key messages.  Also, think through what your core message is – what’s the one thing you’d say on the topic if you only had 15 – 20 seconds?  

Anticipate obvious questions.  You won’t be able to predict every possibility, but even a few draft answers to the most likely queries will be helpful in the interview.

In the interview itself, treat each question as a prompt, a springboard to launch into your own agenda.  Don’t ignore the questions completely, but make sure you say what you want to say as well as replying to the interviewer’s points.  

Feel free to control the agenda and direction of the interview.  If the questions are going your way, fine.  If not, then bridge to a positive line of argument you want to pursue.

Body language is important in television interviews. Maintain firm eye contact with the interviewer.  This emotes conviction, transparency, truthfulness.

Chose close and accessories that won’t distract the audience.  Plain patterns and quiet colours are best.

Hands should be clasped in front or behind you.

In radio, people can’t see you but they can hear you.  Make the most of your voice.  

Pitch your delivery to the mood of the story.  Try to sound natural.  And don’t mutter, throw your voice to the person you’re talking to.  This can be difficult in a down the line interview, as you can’t see your interlocutor.  Try and imagine another person, an imaginary friend, the other side of the microphone and talk to them.

If you are in a remote studio or giving a telephone interview, do sing out if you have problems or issues.  For instance, if you have trouble hearing the questions, say so; don’t soldier on bravely, it’s not necessary or wise.  By the same token, you can take advantage of the physical disengagement of this type of interview.  If you don’t like a question, you can always pretend you didn’t hear it!

Unless you are a politician no one’s going to try and catch you out, but be aware journalists can do some or all of the following:

Use an emotive or negative opener
Bring out things you said in private before the interview, or asked not to be interviewed about.

If you try and maintain the mind-set that it’s your interview, you should be able to get around these impediments easily.  Don’t speculate, be assertive if the reporter tries to take you somewhere you don’t want to go, ignore interruptions and if faced with a nasty opener, simply launch into a balanced view of the case.

Remember, it’s YOUR interview.  It may appear that the journalist has ownership, but don’t forget that if they didn’t have you they wouldn’t have an interview.

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