Five tips to master press interviews


Being in the spotlight puts an insanely large amount of pressure on the speaker. Fortunately, there are ways you can ensure to be interview-ready.

media update’s Talisa Jansen van Rensburg provides you with five tips on becoming a master at press interviews.

Here they are:

1. Keep your body language in mind at all times

If you’re in the interview and the aircon is cold, you might have the urge to fold your arms and cross your legs — don’t do it! The journalist might jot this down, saying you seemed uncomfortable when answering a certain question. Although this was not the case, that is what your body language told them.

When talking to the journalist, be sure to:

  • Keep a good posture
  • Keep your arms relaxed and open
  • Keep eye contact
  • Maintain a high energy level

If you slouch, cross your arms or look down, the journalist might take note of that and write about it, stating that you were uncertain and uncomfortable in the interview. So, keep your body language in mind all the time — even the slightest movement could give the wrong impression.

2. Steer clear of negative language

When you are answering a question in an interview, you might repeat the question before answering it, because this is a normal part of communication. But, if the journalist asks a question containing negative language and you repeat it, this could be included in quotes or headlines from the interview.

You don’t want to associate your brand or client’s brand with negative headlines; therefore, be sure to rephrase the question to something positive or try not to repeat it. Also, when answering questions, stay away from using language that might have bad connotations.

3. Be prepared for any type of industry-related questions

Although you are there to deliver a key message about your clients, the journalist might ask questions that relate back to the industry. That is why you need to keep up to date with the latest trends and what is happening in the news regarding the industry you or your client work in.

If a journalist asks you a question about the industry and you seem hesitant, this will make it look like you don’t know what you are talking about. Nothing hurts your credibility more than seeming unprepared! That is why doing research beforehand is vital for a smooth and successful interview.

4. Saying things ‘off the record’ still means ‘on the record’

After the interview, the journalist might ask you to comment on a certain topic or situation regarding your client’s brand ‘off the record’. You can guarantee that the ‘off-record’ conversation will make its way into the published version.

There is no such thing as ‘off the record’ conversations; therefore, it is best to stay away from questions that are asked privately or after the interview. If a journalist confronts you with a question that you are not comfortable with, just tell them that you are unsure of the facts and you won’t be able to answer the question.

5. Make use of simplified language

Making use of jargon and complex words may confuse your audience and they may wonder whether you actually know what you’re talking about. Rather make use of simple language that anyone can understand in order to avoid any misinterpretation or confusion.

At times, the people who read, watch or listen to interviews might not have a lot of knowledge of your client’s brand or the industry, so making use of easy-to-understand language will help them keep up with what you are saying.

There is a time and place to make use of jargon, but a press interview is not one of them. Keep it short, sweet and to the point — always!

What are some other tips to remember while doing a press interview? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Now that you know how to handle a press interview, be sure to check out How PR pros can build a trusting relationship with journalists.

*Image courtesy of Vecteezy

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