Being interviewed live as cameras roll can be stressful and intimidating. And if you’ve never done it before, it can be easy to lose your train of thought or freeze if you get a tricky question. Yet some people always manage to look calm and collected. They never get rattled and expertly steer probing questions away from danger zones. Their interviews are punchy, bright and interesting.

How do they do it? The answer is media training, a specialized kind of coaching that will ready you for those live interviews with reporters that are invariably peppered with questions designed to stump. 

Being prepared for an interview means planning for the unexpected and knowing how to handle those ambush questions that can leave you high and dry.

Media training is a specialized form of communication training for interacting with media. The goal of media training is to assist and prepare you for your role in representing your company or organization. You’ll learn how to predict questions, avoid common traps, and focus on delivering your key messages.

Interview preparation and media coaching can mean the difference between looking slick or looking sloppy. Professional media coaches will teach you how to dress, how to sit, how to focus your message and how to steer clear of touchy topics.

Learning how to control the narrative and tell your story on your own terms is key to coming out on top.

Some of the key elements of media training include on-camera training, mock interviews, mock press conferences, surprise on-the-spot interviews, bridging and core messaging.

Media training can help someone deliver their message effectively with words, body language and tone. By anticipating difficult questions ahead of time, interviewees can be ready by having prepared answers on hand to reference.

Media training also teaches interviewees how to control an interview and steer it in a specific direction by giving answers that support their messaging. Controlling the narrative is important if you want your story told from your perspective. Someone with media training will better understand how to steer the conversation in a direction that spotlights the angle that they want to share.

Here are five top benefits to receiving media training:

Learning how to talk in sound bites makes you quotable

Media training is a great way to learn how to speak in a way that people will take notice. It can be easy to ramble which can cause your message to become blurred. Interview training teaches you how to remain focused and ensure that your core messaging is always front and center. 

Learning how to speak in short, bright sound bites will make you more quotable and make your comments more usable for TV. Television interviews are short and sweet. Long, wandering answers will end up on the cutting room floor.

Outline your core messaging ahead of time

Knowing what you want to say and how you will say it ahead of time is essential. You must clearly and concisely define your key messages and repeat those messages throughout your interview. Outline your core messages before your interview and practice them aloud. Learn to convey those messages in different ways so you can successfully steer your interview in the direction you want it to go, no matter what. Limit your core messaging to three to five bullet points and stick to those throughout the interview.

Practice your answers for a successful interview

Knowing what you are going to say and what you are not going to say ahead of time is essential. Make sure you are up to date on the latest news or developments that are relevant to your interview and practice your answers, so you feel confident. Boil answers to key questions down to quotable sound bites and practice, practice, practice. 

Originality that will make you stand out from all others is important. If your quotes are the same as everyone else’s, your words will never see the light of day. Think about what makes you or your point of view different and capitalize on that aspect. 

Learn how to deflect difficult questions that you are not prepared to answer using bridging techniques, which enable you to divert to answers you feel comfortable providing. Don’t be afraid to paraphrase or repeat your core messaging throughout the interview.

Establish ground rules when you work with reporters

Reporters are there to get a story so always be careful what you say. Comments are not off the record unless you establish that parameter ahead of time. may not be on the record and quotable answers. Never, ever assume a reporter understands something is “off the record.” Use this dynamic sparingly. 

Make sure you understand what the interview is about and what the reporter is trying to find out. Never say anything you don’t mean or would not want to see printed in the newspaper. Err on the side of caution if you are not sure of something and do not make off-the-cuff comments that might be picked up by a reporter and included in their story.

Dress for Success

Dress professionally for interviews. If you are doing an on-camera interview, solid colors play better. Make sure you are comfortable with what you are wearing so you feel confident. Looking professional will also enhance your credibility and authority. Mind your posture if you are sitting, fold your hands in your lap and smile. 

Why is media training important?

Media training is one of the best ways to make sure you convey the messages that you want in the way you want. An offhand question can get you off track and headed into dangerous territory. It’s important to know how to get the conversation back on track so that it takes you where you want to go.

Who needs media training?

Obviously, the people who speak to the news media on behalf of an organization are the ones who need media relations training the most. This can include leaderous of corporations, association leaders, politicians, athletes and many others.

Do I need media training?

Media training helps you to better understand the media landscape and what makes news. It will help you to know what makes a great story and how to contact a journalist to get coverage. You will also gain the confidence to communicate with the media and take control of interviews.

Red Banyan’s team of media training experts can help you prepare for interviews with reporters, teach you how to control the narrative and anticipate those tough questions. Our public relations and strategic communications experts can guide you through the necessary steps to ensure your encounters with the media are as positive as possible.