Saturday, May 30, 2009

15 seconds of fame - Preparing for Interviews

Media outlets consist of various methods of marketing and promotion and are a valuable source to anyone selling a product or service. From printed magazines and newspapers to radio and television broadcasts, in a short fifteen-minute interview, you have the ability to reach hundreds of prospective book purchasers.

Many authors shy away from broadcast interviews. Their one-word responses indicate nervousness, leaving the interviewer struggling to conduct an entertaining and informative interview. As a former broadcaster who has interviews several authors and entertainers. I decided to write my book The Naked Author; Exposing the myths of Publishing because may of my guest had no clue as to how to use the time on the air to its full potential.

During my stint as a morning radio show host, I experienced several interviews where it was like pulling teeth to get the author to relax and elaborate a little more with their answers. It is not customary for an author to be trained in presentation skills. Remind yourself of the last time you watched someone on television when their articulation and presence was so bad that you changed the channel and shook your head.

I remember a comment from an industry professional commenting on what his or her job in the media consisted of: “I am not here to provide a free service to the author. I am here to offer an entertaining and compelling story to my audience.”

Print interviews are very similar to camera interviews. The interviewer may tape the conversation and write the article from the tape. Read a few editions of the publications to prepare for the type of interviews and articles they print. Review the column of the interviewer or writer to understand their journalistic style. Carefully answer questions related to other professionals. The media can be unforgiving at times.

The key to a successful interview is to be interesting, informative and fun. It is the host’s responsibility to deliver an entertaining thirty minutes or hour of material to their viewers or listeners. Television producers and hosts do not book authors, they book individuals with personality. Attention spans are short. Guests who are dull and uninteresting can cause viewers to change channels or radio stations. Broadcast personnel strive to build relationships with their guests. They are banking on dependability, entertainment and interest.

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for television or radio interviews:
• Dress appropriately and maintain good posture. Be comfortable and wear outfits that do not take attention away from you or the topic. Women should make sure their skirt is not too short, that your pants are not too tight or your jewelry is not too big or busy
• Ladies check your make up. It may be necessary to apply a little more make-up than usual. With the New HD (high definition) television and lighting, your coloring and face may appear flat for it tends to remove facial definition. Don’t try to compete with theatrical performers by applying too much. You don’t want to scare the viewers
• The studio lights can get a bit warm and may cause you to appear a little shiny or cause you to perspire. Blot your face prior to the interview to ensure a cool, calm appearance. Do not use regular tissues or toilet paper. Sometimes they leave pieces stuck to your face. Invest in facial blotting tissues
• Know the culture and format of the show and make sure your appearance is a match. If the show is a casual setting, dress casually but be aware that business or more formal shows require a more conservative dress
• Inquire as to the audience demographics so you’ll understand who is listening and how you can tailor the interview to them
• Try to look natural. While you are being introduced, look into the camera, and then to the interviewer. Do not stare into the camera. Focus on your conversation and let the trained camera operators catch close-ups.
• Refer to your question and answer list. Outline a few points you would like to make. Discuss them with the interviewer prior to the show. Have a frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) list prepared
• Stay focused on the topic. Keep your answers interesting. One rule to remember is that anything you say can haunt you for the rest of your life. Even when the camera or recorder is off, you can still be quoted for the record
• Be lively and entertaining, but professional. Use vivid words to describe characters and scenes from your book. Invite the audience to take action; buy your book
• Check your voice volume and inflection. Enunciate clearly and speak with confidence and enthusiasm
• Your answers, also referred to as “sound-bytes”, may be 10, 20 or 30 seconds long and they must be interestingly fascinating and include crucial information about you and our book
• If this is a telephone or remote camera interview, smile and visualize an audience. Project an enthusiastic personality and image with your voice. Project a great personality through the radio waves
• If you are asked a question that does not relate to your book, or asked your opinion of another author, simply say, “I am not sure.” Change the subject back to your topic gracefully
• When telling your personal story, make sure it has human interest. Tell a successful or humorous story about how you became an author. Think of some story that the audience can relate to
• If you are asked a question that embarrasses you, simply rephrase the question and answer it with tact and grace. It takes a little time to get over the shock, but soon, experiences like these roll off the backs of seasoned guests
• Make sure you plug your Web site, blog, upcoming events, appearances and where to purchase your product

At the end of the interview, ask if contact information can be included in the article and find out how you can get a copy for your records. Just in case you are not offered a copy, make an attempt to videotape or record every interview or speaking engagement for future use. Above all, be yourself and do not put the interviewer on a pedestal. By the way, don’t climb up on one yourself.


AJWord said...

Very thorough, thanks for the information it is always better to be prepared for next.