Tuesday Tip-Off : My Interview Secret Weapon Unlocked

“How do you get over being nervous before an interview?” That’s one of the most frequent questions I get at the beginning of media training programs. Being questioned by a journalist, especially on-camera, can be a daunting experience. First, you’re giving up control. It’s the reporter (or their editor or producer) who has the final say as to what is reported. Then, there is the fact that what you say can have a significant effect on your organization or career, good or bad.

Even seasoned interviewees report having butterflies. That’s OK, as nerves prevent people from becoming too comfortable. The key to avoiding extreme nervousness is being well prepared and practiced. Just like an athletics coach creates a game plan, you need to do the same.

Before every interview, a clear objective needs to be established, and a set of well-crafted messages created. That’s media prep 101. Now, here’s my secret weapon. Ask yourself this: “What one question do I hope the reporter does NOT ask?” Then, take the time to develop the answer.

Chances are, there’s at least one question that you would like to avoid. If you are unprepared, I can almost guarantee the reporter will ask it. A good one will pick up on your nervousness and start digging.

A few months ago, I saw an airline CEO fall into that trap. He was giving a great live cable TV interview when the anchor hit him with a tough question for which he was not prepared. He started to stammer, his “uhms” and “ahs” and shifty eyes revealed his nervousness. He started digging a hole big enough for a jet.

If you anticipate the difficult question and prepare your answer, two things will happen. First, the question will never get asked. However, if it does, you will breeze right through it. Neither the reporter nor the audience will be the wiser.

Contact me today if you are interested in learning more secrets to overcoming interview nerves.