“I’m really only confident when I know my subject inside out.”

It’s a common remark that’s made by someone in practically every course I run. And when I hear it, my heart sinks. How am I to respond? “Well, that’s the top tip. Only be interviewed on a subject in which you are completely masterful, and you know everything”. No, it’s never going to happen. And even if it did, that approach won’t work. Bulldozing your way through, pointing out where an interviewer is wrong will make for a bad interview.
Here’s what happens in the real world of today’s news. First, you don’t get to choose what makes news – it happens, and journalists decide what they will cover. Second, you’ll be chosen as an interviewee because you are relevant to the story. Third, they’re not looking for a lot of information – they’re looking for your opinion. Good news or bad, investigative journalism or puff piece, it’s a story. And when you appear as an interviewee, the audience sees you as a character in that story. They want to know what your point of view is, and why they should believe you.
So – here are the real top tips.
• Find out what story the journalist has in mind. Just ask.
• Work out where you stand on it – what message do you want to get across to the public?
• Dig out some key facts to back up your message.
• If it’s a longer interview, think about what you can say to convince the audience you know what you’re talking about because of your experience. Maybe an anecdote, a story that will bring your point of view to life.
Then you’ll be ready to go, prepared to speak regardless of the questions – you’ll be confident!

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