Media Interview Training by a National News Expert

by | Mar 1, 2024

If you’re preparing for a TV appearance, you’ll need the best media interview training to make sure it’s a marketing success. Many will make the mistake and try to “wing it.” And, as we have seen in the past, that can be disastrous.


At Solv Communications, we’re seasoned media trainers with over twenty years of experience in strategic communications and the news media. We get the media because we come from the media. We know all the tricks of the trade. The interview techniques, the redirects, the inner workings of a live TV or radio news set. We’ve seen it all because we’ve done it all on the other side. The following are general tips to help you ace your interview and if you need in-depth media training, reach out to us.


In Person Media Interview Training


The interview starts long before you arrive to the studio and the lights turn on. It takes preparation, practice and focus. The following tips will help you ace your next TV appearance.


Prepare for The Audience


When you’re scheduled for a local morning news show, your approach should be akin to that of a friendly educator. Your audience is broad, diverse, and potentially unfamiliar with your niche. You’ll want to enlighten them with the “what” and the “why” of your story. Think of how you would explain your business to a curious neighbor.


However, when you’re guesting on an industry podcast, your audience likely has a base level of understanding. They seek the “how” and the “so what” of your expertise. Here, you delve into complexities, much like you would in a panel discussion at a conference among peers.


Craft Your Message


Try to focus on three key messages for each media appearance. What important points do you want your audience to know? For example, if your company has just launched an innovative product, your message will focus on its unique benefits and how it solves a problem for your consumers. Having a clear message also helps you focus if the interview derails. Your message is what you’ll use to get the conversation back on track.


Be Prepared for Pointed Questions


Interviews often include direct, and sometimes difficult, questions that aim to probe deeper into the subject matter. Prepare yourself like a lawyer in a courtroom—anticipate the cross-examination and arm yourself with composed and factual responses. If your company has faced challenges, be ready to address them with honesty and a focus on the solutions or learnings gained.


Know the Links You Want to Promote


Strategically incorporating references to your website or a specific campaign should be as seamless as providing your contact information at the end of a meeting. Decide beforehand if you want to send people to your website, an event, or your social media platforms.


Practice Makes Perfect


Consistent practice before an interview is akin to a pilot running through pre-flight checks. It’s not about scripting every word, but about being so familiar with your talking points they flow naturally, no matter the direction of the conversation. Role-play with a colleague, answering both routine and unexpected questions until your key messages are second nature to you.


Consult With a Media Interview Training Professional


Enlisting the help of a top media trainer is like hiring a personal coach for the Olympics. They’ll refine your skills, point out areas for improvement, and provide strategies to handle the interview as confidently as an athlete approaches their sport. Their insights can transform a good interview into a gold medal performance.


Non-Verbal Media Interview Training


Non-verbal communication is arguably even more important than the words you speak. Between 70% to 93% of all communication is body language. Nonverbal cues are also 10 times more likely to build confidence, rapport, and sustain connections with your audience. Here’s what you can do to convey a strong message.


Resist the Urge to Sway Side to Side


Non-verbal cues are just as communicative as your words. Swaying side to side can distract your audience and undercut the perceived strength of your message. Practice standing as if your feet are rooted to the ground, providing a strong base that reflects inner certainty.


If Standing, Don’t Slouch or Stick Hands in Pockets


Your posture communicates before you even begin to speak. Standing tall, with a straight spine and open stance, signals authority and approachability. Avoid casual postures such as slouching or hands in pockets, which can suggest discomfort or a lack of seriousness. Instead, use purposeful gestures to emphasize your points and demonstrate engagement with the topic.


Don’t Break Eye Contact


Locking eyes with the camera or the interviewer isn’t about winning a staring contest; it’s about building a bridge of trust with your audience. Poor eye contact can convey signs of weakness and insecurity. You need to believe in your product or service. Keeping solid eye contact ensures your message is delivered with confidence in an authentic way.  


Smile Properly


Your smile? It’s your secret weapon. But be aware of the smirk—it’s the mischievous twin that can sneak in when nerves hit. Before the interview, practice your winning grin in the mirror. It’s the non-verbal handshake that says, “I’m glad to be here,” setting the tone for a positive exchange.


Choose Your Wardrobe Wisely


Think of your outfit as the wrapping paper on a gift—it should hint at what’s inside without stealing the spotlight. Skip the ensemble with loud colours or distracting patterns. Instead, select a business casual and professional outfit.


Remote Media Interview Training Tips


Turn the channel to CBC or CNN, and within short order, you will see a guest being interviewed over Skype, Zoom, Teams, etc. Here’s how to nail those remote interviews.


Have a Professional Background


Your backdrop is more than just scenery; it’s a visual haiku of your professional story. Keep it clean, keep it simple. Make sure it says “I’m a pro” and not “I forgot to tidy up.” Good lighting and a clutter-free space can make or break the visual harmony.


Invest in a 1080P Webcam


A fuzzy image can blur your first impression, so invest in a webcam that makes every pixel count. Especially if your image is being broadcast on national TV with hundreds of thousands of viewers. It looks especially weird when the screen changes from a hi-def broadcast to your highly pixilated home office.


Company Branding in Background


A splash of branding can be as subtle as a well-placed coffee mug with your logo or a strategically hung poster. It’s a silent shout-out to your brand that speaks volumes visually without interrupting your flow.


Eye Contact is Key


In the virtual world, your camera is the gateway to eye contact. Don’t let your gaze wander down to your notes or out the window. Look straight into your computer’s camera and deliver your message with the confidence of a CEO and the relatability of a friendly neighbour.


Conclusion (Be Yourself)


If all of these things don’t come naturally to you, it might be difficult to “be yourself.” But it is the best advice. At the end of the day, people connect with others that they relate to, so let your personality shine. It can be a difficult balance, but with practice, you can be a media pro!


If you’re looking for the best media interview training coaches with decades of experience, reach out to us! We’d love to help you ace your next media appearance.

Nicole Harris

Nicole Harris is the Founder and CEO of Solv Communications, a leading Reputation Management and PR agency in the Prairies. As a former network television news anchor and reporter, Nicole has gained deep insight into the power of earning trust through strategic communication. Over her 15-year career in the media she has covered some of the most high- profile risk management stories including cyber breaches at Fortune 500 companies, product recalls, workplace violence and everything in between. Nicole and her team’s extensive industry knowledge and strategic guidance will help you focus on what is in your control to mitigate risk and minimize damage to your reputation. It’s all about prioritizing strategic planning to spot an issue, effectively manage it, and develop action plans to safely steer you through any situation before it damages your reputation. Nicole has developed and delivered bespoke reputation management, strategic, and media training for senior executives, board members, politicians, and celebrities.

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