Word Choice and Tone, Body Language are Critical in Media Interviews

By Eileen Tanner

The words you choose, the tone of your voice, and your body language are critical to your success in talking with the media, or any audience. Earlier this month we discussed creating messages and interview techniques which represent another big part of your presentation success.

It takes 10 seconds to make an impression, so make sure that first impression is a good one.

Reflecting credibility isn’t just what you say but your body language, voice inflection, eye contact, facial expressions, and hand and head gestures.

Tone and Body Language

When you’re speaking to the media you’re selling yourself as much as your product, service or company. How well you present yourself has an impact whether you’ll be viewed as a credible source to the reporter and the audience. This's why body language and tone is so important.

Tone is also important in building credibility and very important during interviews. A single word, whether written or spoken can take on different meanings depending on context. Interviews should be friendly and conversational, even if the topic doesn’t lend itself to that. Practice with a coach or co-worker to make sure you can answer even leading and accusatory questions in a friendly manner.

The speed of your words and voice intonation is another way to insure your interviews will be well received. Practice is important here as when questions become testy it is a natural tendency to raise our voice and increase the speed of your speech. Reporters know this is a sign you’re nervous and may continue the line of questioning. Keep them guessing by practicing.

Pay attention to your body position, facial expressions, hand and head gestures. These are all clues to your comfort level with the reporter and subject matter. Whenever possible, keep eye contact with the reporter, even if the television camera is coming from a different angle.

A few things to keep in mind with your body language:

  • Be confident

  • Make eye contact with the interviewer

  • Use your hands

  • If sitting, keep good posture (don’t slouch)

  • Be comfortable, relaxed

  • Show your passion for the subject matter

Interview tips for print and online media:

Generally, you’ll have more time to answer questions but conversely, more time to get off topic or into topics you don’t want to discuss.

  • Know your publication and your reporter

  • Set a time limit

  • Amplify your key points

  • Deliver your messages early – and often

  • Avoid long-winded answers

  • Speak at a conversational pace

Interview tips for radio, television, and most on-camera interviews:

  • Arrive early; accept makeup

  • Deliver short, concise answers -- soundbites

  • Dress appropriately – depending on the outlet that could mean business attire or more casual attire: solid colors, simple accessories (avoid wearing green due to green screens)

  • Sit or stand straight; gesture sparingly

  • Always assume the microphone is on (even when you’re leaving the set)

  • Look at the reporter, not the camera (unless the reporter is not in the room)

If you’re on location:

  • Suggest an appropriate setting (maybe with your company logo in the background)

  • Be conscious of your background (no garbage cans or questionable graffiti)

  • Sit or stand; comfort is key

  • Repeat key messages

  • Speak in short sentences; sound bites

  • You may need to speak louder because of background noise

We’ve covered a lot of information in this series on talking with the media but if you can spend time to master these skills, prepare and practice for each interview, you’ll find it much easier to talk to the media.

Please let us know if we can help you prepare for your next interview, or speech.

This post first appeared on food-pr.com

The Barber Group

Gig Harbor, Washington


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