If you’re an author, business executive, or non-profit director, media interviews represent incredible opportunities to spread your message like wildfire. In my experience, though, most people don’t seem prepared to control an interview. I’ve watched too many individuals get on radio or television, attempt to wing it, and allow the program host to hijack the discussion. (Full disclosure: Years ago, I was interviewed on the CBS Early Show and totally blew it, so I’m speaking from experience.) If you fail to control the conversation, your precious interview will be squandered.
Here’s a good way to gauge your interview prowess. Have you mastered the ability to steer a conversation to any topic that you want to discuss? Just because a radio or television host asks a question does NOT mean that you must answer it. Sure, it’s polite to respond to someone’s question. But, if the host starts down a verbal rabbit trail, you’re not obligated to follow and waste time from talking about your main points.
Occasionally, you may interact with a host who is openly condescending or disagrees with your opinion. Don’t let him or her bully you. Sidestep the argument and redirect the dialogue to the subject that you want to discuss.
Think of an interview like steering an automobile. The host may ask the questions, but you’re the one driving the direction of the conversation. For example, here are three responses you can use when a host asks you something antagonistic or irrelevant:
- Yes, that’s an interesting issue. But, I’ve found an even bigger issue is…
- I’ll be glad to answer that question. But, first, let me say something about…
- You bring up a good question. But, before I leave, I really want to emphasize this point to today’s listeners…
Remember, you are the expert; the host is not. Therefore, it makes sense for you to control the flow of information to the audience, rather than a host who probably isn’t nearly as familiar with your topic.
Let me clarify that I’m not advocating manipulation or impolite behavior during an interview. However, getting on radio and television is hard for anyone to do. So, don’t take it lightly. You probably won’t get a second chance to be on the show. If you fumble an interview because you weren’t prepared or felt intimidated by the situation, don’t blame anyone else. Only you can make your interview successful.
Predetermine your main promotional points and keep the discussion focused on your agenda. When you confidently control a media appearance, you’re able to fan the flames of a marketing wildfire.