How to Give a Great Interview – Part II
Happy New Year! As we usher in 2020—and a new decade—many of us are focused on honing new skills and seizing fresh opportunities, and that makes today’s blog post particularly pertinent. We’re talking about how to give a great interview, a crucial skill for anyone looking to grow their business or their personal brand in the new year and beyond. (This is the second post in a two-part series—for the first part, click here.)
Last time, we covered how to nail chapter interviews while working on a book with a ghostwriter. But what about everything that comes after? Your book will establish you as the expert in your field and/or the master of your own destiny, someone with an extraordinary story to tell. Often, that comes with media interest—lots of it. And of course, increased interest in your personal and professional brand means more visibility and, accordingly, more success. So, let’s discuss how to handle those interviews with confidence.
Brainstorm up front: Got an interview on the books? Take some time to think about what you want to talk about. Write it all down. No need for a new manuscript, though—bullet points will do just fine. Then take a second pass, organizing your ideas, cutting anything that seems superfluous, and smoothing things out so you’ve got a solid list of talking points to draw on during your conversation. With a brainstorming session under your belt, you’re bound to be in great interview territory.
Know your stuff: This point echoes the first in our last post. You can never be too prepared, and that means having an abundance of factual information about your subject at the ready. If you’re discussing your business’s success or strategy, hunt down the company’s latest stats, as well as any industry updates that could strengthen your message. If you’re talking about your personal journey or progress, think about the context of the interview, and what might be most relevant or powerful to share—as well as any elements of your story that you may be better off avoiding. And to make the most out of the opportunity for both you and your interviewer, consider sending him or her an overview of your company and/or your story ahead of time so you both have a good idea of where you’re headed.
Keep it crystal clear: You may be an expert in your field, be it astrophysics, maxillofacial surgery or sales, but that doesn’t mean your reader is. Make sure you know your audience and present information in a manner that is as simple and straightforward as possible, without any jargon they may not understand.
Addressing your peers? Clarity is still king. Know your message, and make sure all of your talking points support it (that’s yet another key element of knowing your stuff). Need help identifying what’s clear and what isn’t? Turn to someone who isn’t an expert—a spouse, friend, or even your middle schooler—and run your spiel past them. If they think it makes sense, you’re probably good to go.
Stay on track: Your agenda and your interviewer’s may not be one in the same, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow his or her lead. If the questions you’re getting stray from the direction you’d like to head in, do your best to get things back on track. Pose a different question in response, or highlight another point that seems more relevant to you.
Be honest: If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t worry about making something up on the spot. Instead, be truthful. People are often nervous about admitting that they’re unsure, but it sounds a lot better to be up front than to scramble for an answer that may or may not serve you in the end.
Get the most bang for your buck: We all understand one of the key benefits of a media interview: exposure. But you can continue to reap it long past the publication or broadcast date. Compile clips on a press page on your website, share them in your newsletter, and post them on social media. And don’t hesitate to harken back to those posts with a #TBT on Facebook or Instagram weeks, months or—if you’ve got a really great, evergreen piece on your hands—even years after they come out. Doing so will go a long way in reinforcing your authority in your network and beyond.
The next step? Bookmark this post. When your book is out and the calls and emails come pouring in, you’ll probably want to refer back to these insights. We can’t wait to see you reach new heights!