Emergency Media Training – Preparing for An Interview in Two Hours

If you are going for an interview in less than two hours, it’s time to get to business immediately. Follow this step-by-step guide and get ready for an interview in no time.

1-Define your media goals

Write down a few points on what your ideal outcome of the interview is. What impression do you want to be given by the interview? What message do you want to convey through the interview? What effect do you want to create on the viewers, readers, or listeners of this interview or media outlet?

2- Isolate your message

Your job is to answer questions in the interview and to make sure your message us understood. A direct and clear message is one that you can sum up in three-points or main ideas with approximately ten words each and say in about 30 seconds. Spend a few minutes writing these messages clearly to focus yourself.

3- Identify the message for media

Now think about the top five questions you expect the reporter is going to come up with. The most obvious and relevant questions. You can’t think of every possible question at this moment. Then come up with the five answers to those questions and write them down so you don’t forget.

4- Conclude the message for the audience

During the process of designing the messages, it is crucial to think about the audience. What do the people listening to the interview want to know or hear about this topic? Then again, write five messages of about ten words that each the audience will be interested in. It may not be necessary for you or the media but is essential for the audience.

5- Extract the final message

After these steps, you will have come up with 15 messages: for you, the media, and the audience regarding the topic. Now analyze the messages. Some of them will be overlapping but there are still too many messages for the presentation. You cannot be successful when you promote a dozen messages in an interview or presentation. You will fail miserably because, in this way, you are throwing out everything, and the reporters or editors will have the power to decide the final message or main points. You must be the one to decide the main story of your interview with a maximum of three clear messages. This decides how your story is going to be shaped when, or if, it is published. These three points should be the ones which satisfies your needs, the reporters and the audience. The stronger these three-point are, the better you will present yourself in the way you want. This is the fundamental backbone of a successful interview. If you do not do this, then smiling and talking will not help you accomplish your ultimate goal.

6-Test the final message

Once you have written the message, it is time to test it. Speak your message out loud and record it on your cell phone, camera, or any device available and listen to it. It may take 30 sec to state it and 30 sec to listen to it. It helps you to make you more comfortable with your final impression. If you are not comfortable with the message, if at any point it is not making sense, or you feel that something important is missing, it is not too late to change it. State, record, and watch the final message. It will help you in the final interview.

7-Answering questions with the right words

After making a clear, crisp, and focused message, the questions are a prominent part of the interview. You have to answer the question carefully. You have been answering questions for your parents, colleges, friends, boss, investors. It may seem simple, and in other aspects of life, the more detail you give in an answer, the better it is. But this is not true in the case of media appearances. You cannot use the same communication techniques in the media interviews you do in other fields of life. You have to answer in a very focused way. In an everyday communication, you have the context of a conversation with your talk. Whereas in any media talk, a reporter may be talking to you for an hour and take two sentences out of the whole conversation to highlight. This changes the impact of your talk.

For example, someone asks a media trainer, “do you feel guilty and ashamed about teaching leaders to lie and spin their words in talks”? If the trainer answers, “I don’t teach people to lie!”, this line will get quoted and feel defensive and hostile. “I don’t feel guilty to teach people”, is another statement that will have a negative effect. The best way to answer the question is to think of the question neutrally and answer neutrally. The neutral version of this question would be “how do you feel about your profession as a media trainer?” The answer would be, “I feel great teaching people to communicate effectively.” There is no way the reporter can claim that the trainer is dodging the question; neither can he quote any part of the answer which makes the trainer look defensive, hostile, or silly. Defending yourself in media presentations is losing. Don’t use other’s words. Focus on the words you want to say. Maybe it feels that you are not properly responding to the question, but it is safe to make your impression right. Bridge your answers to your focus message points. This will put you in good shape for conversation.

Don’ts of Emergency media training

  • Do not waste time brainstorming on 50 or 100 possible questions the reporter might ask you. Come up to 5 of the most obvious questions the reporter might come up with. At the moment, you don’t have time to think of every single possible question. You can spend days on it, and they will not end. You cannot read every single article or piece of information regarding the interview.
  • Don’t try to overrelax yourself with a drink, pills, or any other such thing. It will slow your reaction time during the interview. Resist the urge to relax with such things.
  • Do not start gathering more and more data regarding the topic of the interview. Remember, you are being asked for an interview because you know more than the reporter. Do not gather data at this time. Instead, refine it and narrow down your main messages.
  • Don’t panic and go for a wild chase of endless questions—ten more pages of data or 50 pages of briefing. The time for these things is over. Now the time is for focusing the messages, packing them with soundbites, and practicing their delivery to execute them well.


If you have to prepare for a media interview in a short time, follow the points above by narrowing and refining your information. Draw a final message most relevant to you, the media, and the audience. Answer the question wisely with the proper selection of words to make the right impression. Don’t panic and waste time in gathering more information or thinking of endless possible questions. Focus and refine the things you want to convey.

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