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Rise to the Occasion: How to Do a Better Job in a Media Interview

I’ve been coaching executives for media interviews. Much of this work is done over the phone. Many of the executives speak English as a second language. Some of the execs carry bad memories of bad media experiences. All wonder, “How can I keep calm when I’m asked a rude or rambling question?”

You can keep calm by giving yourself two fundamental rights:

  • The right to get your message across accurately;
  • The right to remain comfortable.
  • No one else can confer these rights. Only you can give yourself the basic rights to succeed in a tough interview or Q&A.

    Attitude is everything.

    Start now. List all the questions you might get.

    Vary your questions. Don’t make it easy. Write down hard questions. Make them tricky, make them difficult. The better you prepare for worst-case questions now, the more confidence you’ll project in a media interview or a post-presentation Q&A session. Ask a colleague to help you with a few trial runs. Record your answers. Keep tightening them. Make each word count.

    Above all, don’t come across as defensive.

    Pay attention to your vocal tone when you answer. Does your voice convey confidence and clout? If your tone sounds defensive or annoyed, you’ll undercut your words. Seek speaker coaching if your voice is not up to par. One or two professional coaching sessions might be all you need to sound more confident when you speak.

    Pay attention to your body language. Don’t glare. Don’t cross your arms. Don’t tap the desk. Don’t fiddle with a pen. Don’t shift weight from foot to foot.

    Keep in mind: Interviewers and audiences have the right to ask questions! It’s your responsibility to rise to the occasion with strong answers.