There’s an old saying that perception is reality, and this could not be truer when it comes to media interviews. Over the past year we have seen Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries make headlines for comments that the public has deemed outrageous. Both Ford and Jeffries are a perfect example of the value of media training. Media training provides the opportunity to prepare for questions that will be asked in a formal interview and also to defend their company in a press conference. Here are 3 common ways that you might make the wrong impression in an interview.
Repeating the Same Statement
At times in a crisis communication situation, you should have your pre-determined statement. But if you keep repeating it in a general interview this can be highly problematic. Repeating the same talking points without a personal narrative actually makes interviewer suspicious that you are either hiding something or seem to be ignorant on a particular issue. The world is currently consumed by information and as WestJet proved; authenticity holds significant value in today’s society. If you just keep repeating the same points in a presentation or interview you begin to sound like a robot. And believe me, the audience does notice it. Media training can help you stay on message, and be authentic.
Showing the Wrong Emotion for the Situation
In a press conference an executive can make a near perfect statement, but their body language or a few words could be all the audience remembers. Earlier this year President Obama came under fire for his press conference after the shootings at the Washington Navy Yard. On the whole, his press conference thanked the right people and seemed to have the dark tone necessary for success, but a few things derailed the presentation from being fool-proof. Despite the somber tone, President Obama seemed to be annoyed rather than sad. By saying “we are confronting another mass shooting” in a frustrated manner, some felt he was making the situation political. His words and body language were interpreted as using the press conference to blame his political adversaries instead of showing sadness for those who passed.
Dressing for the Occasion
Mark Zuckerberg is well known for his hoodie . Steve Jobs was known for his turtleneck. For many executives, the usual look is a suit and tie. What many don’t realize is the suit and tie sends a message to the audience. In a formal interview, an executive in a suit is ideal because it makes them appear professional and in charge. A suit and tie is not the correct attire though for a community event where others will be dressing casually or when speaking to employees who are typically dressed in a more casual manner. It you are too formal you will be perceived as out of touch with the audience and will not seem genuine in your message. A good rule of thumb is to always dress at, or slightly above the level of the audience you are addressing.
Media training can help you avoid these common mistakes but it should not be a one-time effort or event. If you want to be really good at media interviews it takes a consistent effort and practice to get your message delivered well.