How to prepare for broadcast interviews like a pro
For all the talk of social media displacing traditional channels in news consumption, television remains the primary platform, with 75% of UK adults regularly tuning in. As it retains its position as the media mainstay, broadcast interviews are an obvious necessity for company spokespeople, but it’s important to remember that they require careful preparation and consideration to be executed effectively.
TV is much more involved than written commentary and places more demands on company spokespeople. Successful interviews necessitate frank conversations with spokespeople about their appearance, speaking style, and mannerisms. Any reluctance to talk about these things must be overcome to ensure your company spokesperson can make the most from the opportunity and resonate with the right audience.
Plenty of articles will advise on the obvious ways to prepare for a broadcast interview: practice your answers in advance, research the media outlet, and understand their audience. But a neglected area of advice is around how your spokesperson presents and conducts themselves, which is equally important – if not more important – than what they say. Bear in mind viewers in offices, gyms, airports, and other communal areas are often watching the news with the sound turned down or even off completely.
In this article, I’ll discuss the less talked about tips you can utilise to prepare your company spokesperson for a hotly anticipated broadcast interview.
How should they present themselves?
Pinstripe, check, herringbone, and textured fabrics cause havoc for cameras and can create a “swimming” effect. Fortunately this faux pas is not overly common, but it is important to avoid any potential pitfalls where possible. If a spokesperson stands out for their whimsical appearance, the attention of an audience will be on that and not their well-rehearsed answers. It’s worth vetting clothing and jewelry choices beforehand: boring is better than bombastic. And a spare blouse or shirt on standby for the day won’t go amiss if there are any coffee-related mishaps.
The second part of image is concerned with expressions and mannerisms. It’s against our better nature to keep reminding someone to blink or tell them to stop touching their face, but overcoming this squeamishness will pay off on the big day. It’s again a case of where you want the audience’s attention to be; on what your spokesperson is saying, rather than their fidgeting. Address this by videoing your spokespeople being drilled in interview-style role-plays, then play this back to them to identify areas of improvement together.
How are they saying it and to whom?
Anyone who has seen The King’s Speech will already have an idea about the first point this section is going to make. The words your spokesperson uses and how they use them will impact the strength of their message. Qualifying terms such as ‘I think’, ‘maybe’ or ‘probably’ convey a lack of conviction. Too much ‘umming’ and ‘aahing’ or repetition of the word ‘like’ also suggests uncertainty. The solution is the use of simple words, short sentences, and plenty of pauses.
While it might seem counterintuitive at first, it’s also important to remind your spokesperson that they should not be talking to the interviewer per se. The audience is the viewers at home and elsewhere, and the aim of the game is to convey the message to them. Every answer to an interviewer’s question should pivot to the talking points and put them into context for viewers with relatable anecdotes. For prime examples on how this can be achieved successfully, look for clips from US presidential debates; Barack Obama and other high profile politicians are masters at isolating their target audience and disregarding everyone else in the studio.
There’s no substitute for media training
The usual advice from PR pros about TV should not be ignored; these will be the necessary conditions to meet for a good media performance. But the most accomplished performers will have been thoroughly scrutinised on how they present themselves and coached to perfection. To achieve a truly remarkable performance, there is no substitute for a rigorous course of media training to get your spokespeople as prepared as possible.
If you’re interested in more information about media training, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By James Fahy, Account Manager