A little bit of nervousness before a speech or interview is a good thing. A lot of nervousness—not so much. Yet media interview and public speaking skills are essential for most executives and business owners.
A rocky speech in front of potential investors could leave your business lacking the resources it needs to thrive and survive. And a poorly handled print or broadcast interview may turn a relatively benign issue into a full-blown crisis.
Which brings us to Talk about Talk, a semi-regular (I’ll share something whenever I find a worthwhile example) feature here on Polaris B about media interview and presentation skills.
Every Talk about Talk post will focus on one example—sometimes good and sometimes bad—to demonstrate a key lesson to improve your performance in the boardroom and in front of the camera.
What makes a good media interview–from a reporter’s perspective
As you likely know, Couric is an award-winning journalist, TV personality and author. Before joining ABC News, Couric was the first female solo anchor of an evening newscast at CBS Evening News, after a 15-year stint as co-anchor of NBC’s successful Today Show.
In this interview with CBS Evening News producer Tony Maciulis, Couric shares five suggestions to help reporters get a better interview:
#1 Be a gracious host If you put people at ease, you are more likely to get a good interview.
#2 Calibrate your tone Vary your tone depending on your interview subject.
#3 Prepare Anticipate how people will answer, then prepare suitable follow up questions.
#4 Listen Avoid going through a laundry list of questions without listening to your subject’s responses.
#5 Remember who you serve A journalist’s job is to inform the audience.
If you’re a spokesperson, or someone who interviews people for a company blog, the interview is worth watching.
Contrary to what many spokespeople believe, an interview is not an opportunity for a ‘gotcha’ moment. Couric advises journalists to remember who they serve, reminding them the goal is to enlighten and inform their audience.
She also stresses the importance of putting your subject at ease and moderating your tone, depending on your interview subject. Couric always tries to be a gracious host, but changes the way she speaks to be more pugnacious if speaking to a controversial figure (or more empathetic when speaking to someone who recently suffered a personal tragedy).
Take a look.
Do you need help preparing for media interviews? Download our tip sheet on how to be a better spokesperson.
Talk About Talk: What Makes a Good Media Interview