Countless! The number of times I’ve heard, “I’m so nervous. I hate speaking in front of people, much less a camera!” In your head, or verbally you might be saying:
“My palms are sweaty.”
“I’m breathing but I can’t catch my breath all the way.”
“I’m sweating…I think it’s showing.”
“My knees are uncontrollably shaking.”
“My mouth is so dry!”
“I might just throw up.”
Each of these feelings and physiological reactions come as a result of fear. This fear could be fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of embarrassing yourself/your organization. Or, just a plain lack of talking-to-the-media skill. BUT, it can be overcome so that you can encounter a reporter with confidence and succeed as a representative of your organization!
Here are 5 things you need to know:
I know it’s hard for you to believe, but YOU actually control the interview with a reporter. YOU have the information the reporter needs. I remember one time, as a reporter in Cincinnati, interviewing a business owner who had been well-media-trained to be “message oriented”. I asked him a multitude of varying questions and he delivered the SAME EXACT ANSWER EVERY TIME. I was frustrated with the lack of cooperation, yes. But guess what I used on the air that night. Yep, that SAME EXACT ANSWER.
2- K.I.S.S. (Keep it Simple Stupid)
You might remember Dan Akroyd’s character in Dragnet, Sgt. Joe Friday, say “Nothing but the facts.” Dude! Just stick to what you know. Be message focused. Know where you want to go with the interview and get there, no matter what questions get asked. Note, a soundbite is only 4 to 20 seconds long with the average being about 12 seconds. In the big scheme of things, that’s not a lot of words! And if you drone on and on your message gets convoluted and a lot of content will get chopped off and left on the cutting room floor. Stick to you talking points! You need to walk in with at least 3 talking points.
3- PRACTICE. RINSE. REPEAT.
I train with some Special Forces (yep, I train NAVY Seals!) and they’ve shared with me their motto, “You fight like you train and you train like you fight.” So when you go into battle, put on your armor by training (practicing) what you’re going to say. If the first time you’re saying it is to the reporter, without rehearsing, I can bet you it won’t come out as good as if you’d practiced. PRACTICE with a friend or a colleague or your spouse. Heck, practice by yourself looking in a mirror! DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT go in cold-turkey and arrogant.
4- F.E.A.R. Face Everything And Rise. (Don’t Run!)
Fear of screwing things up in a media interview needs to be analyzed and addressed…or FEAR WINS. You are better than the fear you face. Know the difference between nervous energy and nerves caused from the unknown. You can convert your nervous energy into positive energy just by facing the interview full-boar! And if you have that debilitating kind of fear, think about what causes it, and address it.
EX: You might say to yourself: “I’m scared of saying something stupid.” Change your self-talk to “I’m prepared and knowledgeable about this subject and the audience needs to know what I have to say.”
5- FRIEND, NOT FOE
The media is actually NOT out to get you. They actually WANT to see you succeed. If you come across as intelligible and trustworthy, you’ve both succeeded at your job for the day.