Having the gift of gab (i.e. a big mouth) occasionally gets me in front of a camera or microphone for media relations work. Check out this piece I recently did to promote Prince George Disc Sports: http://youtu.be/Hc57zxvY7UY
Here are some pointers that I have learned to put on a good show:
- Prepare 3 key messages. Don’t leave it to chance, identify three things you want to convey and weave them into any answer you may be asked. For this interview, I wanted to give a short description of what Ultimate is, a mention of the co-ed aspect of our leagues, and talk about the “Spirit of the Game,” unique to the sport.
- Share the spokesperson role. It’s not about you. While it’s good to have your best speaker involved, especially for your top three messages, diversity is also crucial. Others can offer a different perspective and might relate better to your target audience. For the piece above, Noah did a great job because he is young, enthusiastic, and relatively new to the sport. For past interviews, I’ve recruited a female voice because our leagues are co-ed and we are always trying to attract women. If you can, coach them ahead of time; however, sometimes their spontaneous, amateur responses work the best.
- Be conversational. A good media person will tell you to ignore the camera & look directly at them. By simulating a conversation, you will come across less rigid, less nervous, and more confident and engaging.
- Move & speak deliberately. For video, keep your movements fluid so you remain in the frame and don’t distract. Furthermore, use strategic pauses between your responses to modulate your speaking rate (rapid talking is a common nervous reaction). Those breaks will also make it easier for editors to make you look good.
- ID future improvements. As tricky as it is, watch or listen to the piece with a critical eye. Identify what you are doing well, so you know what to continue, and find ways to up your game in the future as well. I learned by watching my first interviews that I was so concerned about my posture that my nose stuck in the air. For my next gig, I made sure I looked down slightly to avoid this. My wife also noticed that I blink often when under camera; therefore, I know to keep a few brain cells open when I interview to monitor and correct for this.
- Thank your media. Lastly, while it’s true you are assisting their job by providing content, making a positive impression with your media contacts is important. If you are fun, enjoyable, and easy to work with, it will make it easier for you to secure promotion when you need it next. See exhibit A: