March 31, 2017

Media Training—3 Tips for a Great Interview

If you’re Skyping into a live TV interview from your home office, make sure you lock the door! Robert Kelly, a professor of political science at South Korea’s Pusan National University, learned this lesson the hard way after his two children stole the spotlight during his March 2017 BBC interview.

Professor Kelly was discussing the impeachment of Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s former president, when his office door opened to an unexpected visitor. “I think one of your children has just walked in,” the BBC anchor said, prompting Kelly to reach for his daughter to keep her back from the camera. Then, Kelly’s toddler son burst onto the scene in a rolling walker and headed straight for the camera. Talk about a work-from-home parent’s and PR professional’s worst nightmare.

The interview, which has gone viral, racking up 20 million views on BBC’s YouTube page, exemplifies the importance of media training. While most media interviews run smoothly, you must prepare for the unexpected. If you are in the middle of an interview that goes awry—like professor Kelly’s BBC interview—it can be overwhelming and even cause panic. However, there are certain ways you can handle these stressful interviews, make the most of the opportunity and still deliver your message.

There is a whole art and science to media training, but here are a few tips to help you maintain your composure and get your message across during a stressful interview situation.

  1. Keep cool. Despite the circus going on behind him, professor Kelly maintained control and was able to complete the interview with grace. Professor Kelly’s calm demeanor amid the chaos is a testament to his preparation and comfort with the subject matter. As a result, he was able to avoid being rattled while still effectively communicating the points he wanted to get across.
  2. Keep on topic. Curveball scenarios (like a baby wandering into the room) or tough questions can add an extra layer of pressure on the interviewee. When the interview starts to go off topic for whatever reason, always bring the conversation back to your main message points.
  3. Keep it real. Be yourself, speak with sincerity and avoid jargon. Interviewees who are genuine and authentic are more persuasive and engaging to viewers and listeners.

While professor Kelly’s interview turned out to be TV gold, there’s no such thing as being too prepared.