Interview Coaching Melbourne

Real Scenario Coaching

Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training. This is why it is essential to be well prepared for an interview with the media. Whether it’s a formal news interview or a casual podcast you need to know exactly what it is you want to say and how to navigate the difficult subjects that are bound to arise.

If you don’t have to answer any difficult questions during an interview you got off lightly. Most good journalists will have a few pointy questions in mind because let’s face it, the more uncomfortable the questions the more entertaining the interview. People love watching other people squirm.

So to help you stay cool calm and collected under even the most offensive questions, we have designed a thorough interview coaching course for anyone in Melbourne who wants to be well prepared.


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Communicating Key Messages

What is the main thing I want to say today? It is like the executive summary before you read the rest of the repot. What are the headlines? Master your key messages, practice them out loud.

The more you do this the better you’ll get at it. Sometimes you’ll know too much, and you have to figure out what key points will make a good story that they journalists will latch onto. Don’t be afraid to come back to the same things, even if you’ve said it once, you can say it again. 

It is okay to return to your key message if the journalist is coming at it from a different angle. If you keep coming back to your key messages, they’ll run what you’re saying because it’s almost all you’ve said. In a live interview situation, it is important to not sounds repetitive. This is a skill you will learn in the live scenario experience we offer in our media trainings. You want people to understand you, to be interested, to not be bored, and it’s good to be concise. A lot of us have trouble just containing our message to that really short package. And whilst you don’t want to just answer with yes or no or one- and two-word sentences, you also don’t want to go on into much depth. Your area is usually complicated, and the journalist will be lost.

Choice of language

Avoid cliches and jargon. We all have them and use them. Business specific language will leave a lot of people cold and unsure what you’re talking about. But also try to use some strong language, a couple of powerful words.

If you’re going to talk about a specific point, maybe have a word that really makes it pop. If you’re going to target a particular fact and you think it’s quite significant, have a strong word. But also show that you’re human. Relate to the story. 

Think about your audience but also your journalist. If they are an expert reporter in the field you are addressing, you can afford to be specific with your language use and let them choose what will work. If however, you find yourself addressing a broader audience, for example in a radio interview, you need to think about them.

Who are they? Do not dumb down the story you have to tell, and do not deny your audience their intelligence. It comes down to jargon industry specific words and how to avoid them without losing your authority and expertise.

How to avoid unwanted quotes?

The rules of the game are really quite simple. If you don’t want to hear it, read it, or see it, don’t say it. You can’t get it back. ‘Off the Record’ does not exist. The moment you’re in the same room as the journalist or cameraman you’re on the record. That doesn’t mean you can’t be relaxed and friendly and try to build rapport and break down some barriers, but the journalists are smart and are listening to everything you say, for example, it may not be a direct quote, but it may lead to a question in the interview. 

Managing nerves is an essential component to guarding your language. Banter and jokes prior to the ‘official interview’ are common pitfalls for being caught off guard, quoted against your intentions. Remain calm and collected, and in control of the interaction.

Think about what you DO and DO NOT want to say in an interview:

Think about what you’d don’t want to say. It’s worth thinking about that beforehand. What areas are you not qualified, experienced enough, or confident enough to address? Do you know what you are allowed to say? What areas are you comfortable being quoted on for your own image and on behalf of your organisation?

It is highly valuable to spend time thinking about these aspects of an interview, as it prepares you for when a question that beyond your expertise is asked. Having a bridging statement prepared helps you through these situations. Instead of the defensive response of “no comment” or “I can’t talk about that”, you are able to answer with respect and politeness whilst redirecting the question back to your key messages. Bridging statements are a central component of the media training you will receive.

How to address difficult or off topic questions:

When a journalist asks a particularly difficult question in an interview, you need to be prepared with a diplomatic response. A phrase as simple as “look that’s not really my area of expertise to talk about, I’m really here to talk about X, and it’s really interesting to look at Y” and away you go. In an interview with journalists, and imperative to remain reasonable, calm, and polite, whilst maintaining authority and assertiveness. Be assertive not aggressive. 

If you find the line of questioning is going off topic, and maybe the journalists might be a bit prickly or accusatory, it is important to stick to your topic and steer the interview back to where you want it. The journalists is not your audience. You audience is the person that is going to watch or read what you’ve got to say at the end of the day.

Bring the interview back to the topic calmly. It is not a normal conversation. Many journalists won’t be as informed on the topics as you are as it is your area of expertise. Whilst you’re not here to educate them, you don’t want to play the teacher and fill them in with everything you’ve ever known about the topic, at the same time you’ve got to understand that their questions might be a little bit off kilter, and you might have to steer them back politely.

How to get the most out of my body language?

Eye contact is imperative. If a journalist is talking to you, look straight back at them. The camera will most likely be off to the side a little bit, and you’ll get to experience that when we practice our live scenario training and real-world exercises in your media training. but unless otherwise specified, look straight back at the journalist like you would in a normal conversation without making it an unnatural staring competition. Your eye-line is obvious on screen. If you are looking up or around it looks like you’re unsure, or untrustworthy.
Gestures are very important, as it relaxes the body language. Don’t be afraid to use your hands a little bit. We communicate with more than just our words, and our mouth – its gestures, its tone of voice, its eyeline. Even if you were standing and giving a lecture, you’d be walking back and forth not just standing ridged. Posture is important – sitting up, looking like you’re ready to go.