I'm Scared of the Media

Media interviews can be very stressful, more so if the interview is conducted live. During media training I was taught to have three key messages and stick to them no matter what.  Politicians do this when being questioned by reporters.

The problem with following this advice is that you try to stick to those three key messages and when asked questions on them your voice sounds artificial and disingenuous. You should have three key messages but then you have to be prepared to answer probing questions.

A technique that I have found useful is to utilise the 'strand' approach that negotiators use. Write out your three key messages then think about what three questions might be asked from each key message. By doing this you now have nine statements which is more than enough for a television or radio interview yet you are still adhering to your three key messages.

You can prepare for work presentations and job interviews in the same way. How often have you prepared for a job interview by listing loads of questions that might be asked of you and not one of them were asked in the interview?  Nonetheless, you still managed to answer the questions with ease. That’s because your brain likes to be prepared to defend you from attack and works best if it is allowed warm up first, a bit like running a race.

Speaking of warming up, a journalist may ask you a few questions early in the interview to relax you and then they will ask you what they really want to know. Be careful that the early questions aren’t there just to lull you into a sense of false security because you may be asked some difficult questions which you answer but may later regret doing so. Worse still, you look like a bit of a fool stammering over your reply because you weren't prepared.

Keep in mind that those who work in the media industry are just like you and I, people doing their job.  They are talented professionals who want to do the best that they can, often under difficult circumstances.  They are not to be feared, quite the opposite in fact.