3 Key Takeaways From Media Training To Transform Your Next Interview

Almost every leader can benefit hugely from media training.

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I've spent over 15 years working with C-Suite executives at both the hottest startups and established Fortune 500 companies. The one thing leaders at all of these companies had in common was that they benefited hugely from media training. Heck, I've even worked with C-Suite execs at media companies who have avoided costly headaches because of media training. Executives know the ROI coaching like this has and they pay my firm five figures for our program.

After imparting my team's wisdom on C-Suite executives for many years, three key takeaways always float to the top of the list. These are heavily quoted as the most valuable in our training and they always seem to produce the most "thank you" emails post-program. Here are three free takeaways that will help you ace your next interview or media opportunity.

Establish Your Interview's Setting and Ground Rules Ahead of Time

From the jump, you and the interviewer need to align with what will be on the record, on background or on deep background. Be clear with what will actually be quoted directly by you and what will be paraphrased for context. It's also important to research the journalist beforehand. Every interviewer has their own slant. Get a sense of their interests and overall tone. Look into how they've previously covered the topic at hand. Coming super prepared doesn't just apply to the interviewer — you, too, will want to come well-rehearsed and ready with bells on.

Answer Only What You Want to Answer

Never feel obligated to answer something you can't reply to adequately or that you feel uncomfortable addressing. There are ways to tip-toe around a topic politely and professionally, without completely shutting the interviewer down. You can redirect the focus in a way that's still on topic, or you can focus on a particular phrase or word in their question and answer via that lens. If you really can't answer or absolutely want to avoid it, it's perfectly acceptable to say you need more time to think about something. Ultimately, you can take control of their perceived narrative (i.e., "I can see how you perceived that, but what's really missing from the picture is..." or "What I really want to focus on is...").

Eliminate Out-loud Thinking Noises

This one can be challenging because it's human nature to use filler words. You'll want to go into the interview avoiding the "umms" and "likes" everyone all seem to know and love. While you can get away with those words in everyday conversation, in an interview, it'll make you seemingly lack confidence and come off unsure of your message. Avoiding the use of these is a skill that isn't learned overnight. That's why you'll want to practice daily by recording yourself for two minutes sounding off on a random topic. I tell clients to sign up for a "word of the day" email and set two minutes of their morning aside to record themselves making a speech about that word daily. Practice is key here.

The best experiences come about when both a journalist and interviewee feel like they've come away with something of value. Make sure your next media opportunity is positive by providing a benefit as a source or expert-in-the-field while keeping these three quick tips top of mind.

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