We’ve all witnessed a bad interview. Whether it’s been on the evening news or on the red carpet, watching a guest fumble over their words, say something odd or simply not say anything at all, will give you spine-tingling second-hand embarrassment.

Or perhaps what is more relatable is the fact that we’ve all given a bad “interview”.  Maybe it was for a job you really wanted, or it was the first time meeting your partner’s parents, or maybe you’re much like me and struggle to get your coffee order across to the barista on a Monday morning.

We’ve all walked away from situations or encounters with other people thinking, “Why on earth did I say that?” or “I wish I could just turn back time and rephrase what I meant”.  When we are nervous, overwhelmed or in new environments, which are fast paced, it’s easy for us to lose our confidence and become disoriented.

This is why media training is so important. Just as a psychologist will provide you with practical tools to navigate everyday stress, media training helps to build your confidence and communication skills so you can nail every interview.

As we mentioned in last week’s blog post, media training at its core will help make you a stronger presenter and make you feel more confident and comfortable entering into any interview format. But if that’s not enough to convince you of why it’s beneficial for you and the reputation of your business, then we can only teach you by the mistakes of others!

In this week’s blog, we will go through key, top-level media training lessons, provide examples of bad media interviews which have missed the mark and explain why media training would have been beneficial in this instance.

Understand your key message and know the facts

You must understand the topic and issues you are talking about with enough depth and expertise to sound natural when answering questions. If you only know a few points about the topic you are speaking on, you will find yourself repeating the same lines and not offering the journalist or your audience any new or insightful commentary, or any real tangible value.

Additionally, your key messages, which your PR Agency will help you devise in your media training, need to be short, original and targeted toward your audience. You should have 3-5 key messages maximum amongst your commentary on the topic.

Now, click on the image below to listen to an example of somebody who failed to know the facts and left their key messages at home.

This soundbite is from 2015 when LBC reporter Nick Ferrari interviewed Green Party leader at the time Natalie Bennett on affordable housing.

Unfortunately for Ms Bennett, she wasn’t across the facts about how to make affordable housing a reality in the UK, which is a shame, because that’s her job.

So, what went wrong for Ms Bennett? While she understands one of her key messages which is ‘The Greens Party is making affordable housing a reality for the British people’, she fails to support this statement with any additional facts or provide any other key messages which would strengthen her interview and justify this stance.

As she is a politician, when the journalist senses her uncertainty, he keeps poking her, making Ms Bennett stutter, stumble and sound flustered.

With the aid of media training ahead of this interview, Ms Bennett would have fully understood her key messages and had supporting facts that strengthen her topic. Additionally, Ms Bennett would have been through training and mock interviews on how to navigate difficult questions and remain calm under pressure.

Have something to say

This might sound like a strange lesson following our most recent point. However, you would be surprised how many people shut down in a media interview because they are either lost for words, overwhelmed by emotion or too nervous to say the wrong thing.

Now watch the below video of former Prime Minister Tony Abbot in an interview with a Sky News reporter.

It’s clear in this interview that Tony Abbott is overwhelmed by anger as the journalist has asked a provoking question. However, his lack of response isn’t conducive to his furthering the point.

Had Mr Abbott, with the help of media training, known how to respond calmly to the journalist or take control of the interview and direct it to safer ground, he probably wouldn’t have over 28K views on YouTube.

Be prepared

There is no better use of the motto ‘be prepared or prepared to fail’ than when it comes to a live interview.

If you are speaking on a topic that’s hot off the press or controversial, make sure you do your research on other points of view and prepare responses for tricky questions as there is no opportunity to re-record the interview.

Click through to this Twitter link to witness a politician who should have known better (and apologies for the double Tony Abbott reference).

So, the journalist throws Matt Hancock, the former Health Secretary a curly question during a live cross. First, he tries to evade the question which, had he attended media training, would know isn’t the best way to deal with a sticky situation. He would have been better off briefly answering or acknowledging the question and then using a bridging technique to move the subject like “I need to confirm all the facts before we can talk in detail about that. What we do know is…” Or “That is a concern, but what our situation tells me which is more important is…”

Yet, the biggest fatal flaw in this interview is that the exact same question had been asked to Mr Hancock’s cabinet colleague the day earlier. This is where preparation would have aided Mr Hancock as he would have had sufficient time to compose a comprehensive answer.

Dress to impress

Finally, dress appropriately for the media interview. Looking clean and presentable will help to build your reputation as an expert on your topic and won’t distract viewers from your key messages.

Wear solid shirts, ties, and dresses, avoid small and complex patterns including stripes and keep accessories to a minimum.

In short, don’t do what the Oregon Health Minister did while announcing the daily Covid-19 death toll in 2020.

Media attention can be a game changer for your brand or business, so knowing how to nail an interview and become a well-known expert in the media is crucial. For more tips on how to be prepared to face the media, you can download our free media training bootcamp guide and get in touch with us for a face-to-face session.

For further information, please contact the Agent99 team today.

By Agent Eva