This morning Richard Morecroft led a 3 hour Media Training seminar for the Faculty of Human Sciences at Macquarie University. Pertinent points included:
- When being interviewed try to maintain eye contact while listening to a question (demonstrating concentration) and keep that eye contact through to when commensing the response (demonstrating directed intention)
- Voice should be clear, authoritative, and persuasive
- Body language – less is more – don’t let your body language be distracting – for instance, be balanced and don’t lean to one side – place hands together if figeting – don’t be to self conscious – the body language is something that you shouldn’t have to think about
- Picture your intended audience (always consider who you are speaking to)
- For phone interviews, stand (better posture/breathing)
- Always consider your aims – what you want to achieve from the interview
- Try to link to what is being said rather than immediately pushing a dogma
- Take care to consider other people’s starting point – don’t start a discourse on the topic at a level that is too high for the audience’s prior knowledge
- In terms of the language, one government body asked that a report “used words of no more than three syllables and be sexy”.
- Don’t use sentences that are too long – emphasise the main point
- Do a dress rehersal for major interviews – practice in front of a mirror with serious interview questions, respond as though reflection is interviewer (although have another person ask you the questions) – the idea of the practice is to train the body to associate performance with an interview situation (video can be another useful way to self-reflect)
Richard suggested the following seven step process in preparing for an interview:
- Prepare a comprehensive list of possible questions (so that you won’t be surprised by a question)
- Prepare answers in informational terms (facts, figures)
- Organise the information into your key messages (agenda)
- Find links from all questions to your key messages
- Make key messages accessible by having concrete examples
- Find successful delivery mechanisms, for instance a) following a question bring forward your key message/s and then finish off with the answer (this holds people’s attention until the question is answered and provides a satisfying sense of closure), b) answer the question and then add your key message, c) just answer the question, d) avoid the question!
- Make sure you have practiced saying the key messages and responding to questions out loud.
Note that difficult questions should have been pre-empted, but if there is a question that you aren’t included to answer explain why, for instance, “It wouldn’t be appropriate or responsible for me to answer that question” or “that is outside my area of expertise but I am happy to refer you to someone who can answer that question.