Tips and Guidelines for Media Skills
- Develop a positive attitude and project a professional image in the media.
Persuade, project, promote. Watch your language and simplify it. Be prepared.
- First get the attitude right and the listening at the same time.
Next prepare your content – empty waffle can never be a substitute for genuine substance. Some journalists can expose it ruthlessly. Be aware that the way you look, move and use your voice will account for over 90% of how people perceive you and more importantly, remember you. Perception is the only reality others have to go on!
- Be interested and interesting.
Being interested means being a good listener. Focus on being a good listener. The intensity of effort needed to listen intently throughout the interview, and then to respond instantly and effectively, calls for a degree of quick-thinking concentration beyond anything else you will experience. It is no exaggeration to say that completing a four minute “live” interview to the best of your ability will leave you more drained than a normal full day’s work. Formulate answers in advance while they are being asked. Listen not only to the question but to the underlying meaning of the question being asked.
- Avoid the bad listening habits such as:
a) Interruptions: as they demean status. (If you are constantly interrupted, simply put up your hand in the classic Indian HOW signal, palm towards the other person and say in a deep voice. “I hadn’t finished what I was saying” and then immediately carry on making your point)
b) Over-reacting when someone pushes your sensitive buttons.
c) Pseudo-listening or auto-response mode such as when we answer automatically without considering what we have been asked. Pseudo-listening results in distrust.
d) Being afraid of not knowing the answer. Sometimes one may be preoccupied with personal inadequacies, rather than remaining focused on the question.
- Courtesy and responsiveness are important weapons in your armoury when seeking to project a positive image. However, hard-selling PR can backfire and be damaging. You can effectively promote your business or yourself, provided you take the trouble to help your target media, ideally in the most professional manner. Interviewers or managers want an interviewee or participant who will perform as well as possible. Achieve this by lively delivery, animation, and good body language. If you answer the question straightforward and add an extra piece of information, or inject a fresh relevant opinion, the interviewer/manager is likely to base the next question on what you’ve told him – otherwise, it may seem that he is not listening. You are then well on your way to influencing the course of the interview/meeting and the message that you want to promote.
- Take advice from seasoned media presenters such as Larry King who said “Look at life from a new angle – try not to be predictable. You can enliven and enervate communication by using a fresh approach.”
- If you enjoy what you are doing, people will sense it. You can’t fake enthusiasm because you will fail. Projected enthusiasm increases your chances of success. One of the overriding elements President Obama projects is enthusiasm which he communicated very strongly when he spoke – he loved his job and it showed. If you can take a subject that you’re passionate about and make your listener understand why, you will be an effective communicator.
- Attempt to anticipate what kind of questions, including negative ones, you might be asked on the programme. Rehearse your answers until you are relaxed and can answer without hesitation or repetition. If possible, practice by role-playing, i.e. ask someone to act as the interviewer so that you can rehearse your answers and at the same time, get some feedback from an independent party. Alternatively, use your mobile to record yourself and assess your responses critically.