It’s difficult if not painful to watch as probing questions from reporters reduce otherwise smart and dynamic leaders to terror-stricken messes.
Being interviewed by journalists isn’t as easy as it might look. The politicians, pundits and others you regularly see interviewed on cable TV and other news outlets, however, all have one thing going for them: confidence.
I’m not necessarily referring to bravado, although a little swagger helps. No, I’m referring to the confidence that comes from understanding how reporters work and learning how to convey your point of view when speaking with them.
Practice, practice, practice
Few are born with the skills to succeed in media interviews. The players at Wimbledon spend years perfecting their craft. So do the musicians at Carnegie Hall. It’s no different in the competition for the public’s attention and the chance to influence its behavior through the news media’s megaphone.
At the heart of practice is preparation. During the annual hype for the Super Bowl, it’s common to hear coaches say they prepare for the big game the same way they do for regular-season contests. Coaches want the preparation process to become so ingrained in their players that it becomes like muscle memory for the brain, eliminating stress and distractions. The same concept applies to preparing for media interviews. Using a proven method of preparation, time after time, can condition individuals to succeed in media interviews.
Even introverts can succeed
How can I be so sure? I used to be one of those terror-stricken messes mentioned above. As a former reporter and editor for two Pulitzer-Prize winning newspapers, I was an introvert. Like many in the Fourth Estate, I was good at asking the questions but not so good at answering them.
Then, when I became a public relations executive at two Fortune 500 companies, I learned the skills necessary to succeed in media interviews and developed an appreciation for the need to practice them regularly.
My palms still get a little sweaty and my heart rate elevates when I’m interviewed. But I channel that nervous energy to my advantage, bringing clarity and conviction to my comments and their delivery. Furthermore, I enjoy helping others to harness the anxiety in all of us to instill the confidence necessary to succeed in media interviews.