Many business leaders in the news do a good job of delivering their message to the media – the first time they speak in the interview. But then they never return to their message during the rest of the interview.
What to do?
The answer is to keep your eyes on your message – throughout the entire interview. When I tell my trainees this, they think that I am speaking figuratively. I’m not.
In the case of a newspaper, trade publication or radio interview conducted over the phone, I strongly recommend that you have your three message points typed up on a piece of paper in front of you. Then STARE AT YOUR MESSAGE POINTS THROUGHOUT THE INTERVIEW.
If you prefer, keep your message points on your computer screen, but literally have them in your line of sight at all times. We human beings tend to spit out what goes in. So if you are sitting at your desk talking on the phone and your desk is covered with tons of reports, newspapers, graphs and books, this means that a lot of that stuff will come out of your mouth during the course of an interview.
If the interview is conducted over the phone, you get no extra credit for looking up during the interview or speaking from memory. As long as you don’t sound like you are reading a script for the very first time, there is nothing wrong with having your head down and staring at your message notes throughout the interview.
Obviously, you can’t do this if you are being interviewed in person for television. However, even then, you can be looking at your 3” x 5” card of message points right before the interview, on the way to the interview, during your makeup session and during commercial breaks.
For many interviewees, the tendency is to use the remaining moments before an interview to come up with more facts, messages and answers to an infinite number of potential questions. The time for that is past. Just prior to and certainly once you are in the interview, you should look at one thing and one thing only: your three simple message points.
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