Your PR efforts have succeeded and you’ve landed a Zoom media interview with a big media outlet. Nice going! It’s thrilling to have an opportunity to share your product or service with a big audience. This is your chance at the big-time. So what’s next? In part one of this two-part series on Zoom media training, we covered how to look your best during a Zoom media interview.
Now comes another important part.
In part 2 of our series on best practices for a Zoom media interview, we’ll go over sound bites, bridging, presentation, and building confidence so that you come across as professional, knowledgeable, and engaging.
Live TV can be intimidating. And even though you may not be “in-studio,” Zoom media interview jitters are perfectly normal. Few of us instinctively know what to expect when going “on-air.” But like anything else–from doing a big presentation to pitching investors–practice makes perfect. Even if you haven’t had media training or don’t have time for media training before a big TV interview, you can practice some important techniques so that your interview goes smoothly and that you appear polished to the viewing audience.
Ready to get started? Here are a few of our top tips for a Zoom media interview.
1. Start with research. When we do media training for our clients, we always put together a briefing sheet that includes information about the outlet, the interviewer, previous segments, and audience. It also includes talking points that address some of the questions that we think the interviewer will ask. If you’re doing interview prep on your own, take the time to watch previously aired segments so you’ll get a feel for the types of questions you might be asked. Research the show hosts, follow them on social, and familiarize yourself with their interview style.
2. Understand your audience. It’s imperative for you to have a clear understanding of the audience. Are the viewers businesspeople or entrepreneurs? What’s the typical viewer’s age range and interest? Will the segment be focused on tips and advice or on the nuts and bolts of running a business? Go to the media outlets website and click on “About” to get a deeper understanding of the outlet’s demographics and focus.
3. Plan ahead. If you’re planning to just “wing it” may we suggest otherwise. Planning ahead for your interview and practicing what you’d like to say is key. Plus, the interview will probably be short–four to six minutes is about average–so be concise and get to the point quick. It can help to write down the three most important things you want to convey during the interview. This is a strategy that incorporates the “rule of three” — a writing principle that suggests that a trio of events or characters is more humorous, satisfying, or effective than other numbers. Grouping ideas or points into a series of three also makes it easier for you and your audience to remember.
During a recent interview, we advised a client to focus on three key points that paint a more complete picture of her business and her success as a young mom and wellness entrepreneur: What inspired her to start her company, how she builds customer loyalty, and how she has had to pivot during COVID.
4. Practice sound bites. Sounds bites are brief catchy comments or sayings that are easy for people to remember and make for good quotes. Before you sit down for an interview, try to come up with a few memorable phrases or sound bites. Imagine that the journalist and his or her audience know very little about the topic you’re discussing. Keep your descriptions simple, avoid jargon, and emphasize key words or ideas, especially if they are technical or complicated. Practice talking points with a friend or colleague so they don’t sound rehearsed when you work them into the interview.
5. Build bridges. Bridging is a helpful media training technique that puts you in the driver’s seat during an interview, and can help steer the interview back to where you want it to be. Examples of bridging phrases include:
- While [x] is important, it is also important to remember…”
- “The key here is…”
- “That’s a great question, but what I’d like to add is…”
- “What this all comes down to is…”
- “And what’s most important is…
Practice using bridging phrases so if necessary, you can guide the interview back to your talking points and control the direction of the interview.
6. Turn up the energy. A normal speaking voice sometimes can sound flat on TV or the radio. To avoid this, take your energy up a notch, and put some energy and enthusiasm into your voice. Be mindful of the cadence and tone of your voice, emphasizing certain words and phrases a little more than others. Since you’ll likely be seated during your Zoom interview, keep your hands in your lap and use small gestures to emphasize key points, but don’t overdo it.
7. Slow it down. People have a tendency to talk quickly when they’re nervous. And when you know that you only have a few minutes to get your point across, it can be tempting to verbally race to the end of the interview. Try to resist this urge. Instead, pause for a beat or two before answering questions or between statements. You’ll come across as more thoughtful and authoritative.
8. Watch for verbal tics. Almost everyone has a few verbal “tics” or phrases that they come to rely on during normal conversation. Perhaps you say “like” or “um” a little too much when you’re not sure what to say next. We had one client who was very nervous during her first TV appearance and repeated the same adjective at least five or six times during the four minute segment. She wasn’t aware of her tendency to overuse this particular word until she watched herself in the playback video. We can tell you that next time she went on air, she paid very close attention to her words and made sure that she varied her descriptions, and didn’t fall back on bad habits.
A Zoom media interview can be fun, we promise! Try practicing some calming breathing exercises before you begin and visualize yourself doing a great job. Imagine that you’re having a conversation with a friend and take your time. Before you know it, you’ll be a media interview pro.