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Interviews 101

InterviewIf you’ve been asked to do a print or broadcast interview, use these tips to ensure it goes smoothly.

  • Be clear of the reason for the interview – what’s the topic and context?
  • Anticipate the questions, including the unwelcome ones.
  • Create your own key messages in advance of the interview.
    • Think about who your audience is and determine the three most important things you want to get across: make those your key messages.
    • Key messages should answer the questions “so what?” and “who cares?”
    • Craft examples that illustrate your key messages (anecdotes and analogies go a long way).
    • Practice your key messages — several times and out loud.
  • Be concise, but avoid one word answers such as “yes” or “no.” Reporters use short quotes or sound bites.
  • Do not use acronyms or technical jargon. Use plain language wherever possible, for example, “heart attack” or “chest pains” rather than “coronary event.”
  • Use bridges to insert your key messages. Examples of bridges:
    • “I think the important issue is…key message.”
    • “What I’d really like to emphasize is… key message.”
    • “That’s not my area of expertise, but what’s interesting is… key message.”
    • “I understand why people feel that way, but I look at it differently… key message.”
  • If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. You can offer to call the reporter back later after you’ve had time to think about it.
  • Avoid “off the record.” Assume that anything you say will be used in the newspaper or on TV.
  • If the situation warrants, offer names/numbers of other experts who can speak on the topic.