One of the best ways to create some buzz about your business is by giving interviews. Having someone interview you, whether it’s via audio, video or print, is a wonderful, and personal way to get the news out about your products and services. It’s especially great if you’re in a business where the general public might not know even the first thing about what you do.
The biggest drawback for me in giving interviews is that it’s so far outside my comfort zone that it’s scary. I hear that a lot from other people I talk to as well.
The first time I did one I was terrified. The next one wasn’t quite so bad. Having a good interviewer helps because they will know how to put you at ease. But you can do your part to overcome those interview nerves by being as prepared as possible.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when preparing for an interview:
1. Each interview should have a purpose
When going into an interview you should have a good idea of what the purpose of the conversation is. You will have to indulge the interviewer and help them achieve their goal for the session, but you also want to make sure you benefit from it in some way as well.
For example, you may want to use the conversation to educate people, or plug a new book, or let people know about your coaching program. Once you know what your own objective is, you can answer every question that is put to you in such a way that you meet both yours and the interviewer’s expectations.
2. Know who is listening
Just as you wouldn’t market without knowing who your target audience is, you shouldn’t do an interview without knowing who is listening. If you invite your own audience to tune in — and you should be doing this — you will know that your information will appeal to at least some of the listeners.
What you will need to find out beforehand is who the target audience of your interviewer is. They may be completely different to the type of people you are used to speaking with. Once you know the host’s target audience, you can tailor your presentation so that they not only understand the benefits of your products and services, they also understand how amazing their host is in bringing you to their attention.
3. Let the interview host know what questions to ask
A good interviewer will ask you for questions and suggestions of what to talk about. If you’re dealing with someone who is not as experienced, it’s a good idea to give them the questions whether they ask for them or not. Having a list of questions in advance gives both of you a way to keep the interview focused on your purpose and goals. It also gives you time to think about your answers, and about what to do if the interview goes off track.
For example, if someone asks a question that doesn’t have anything to do with the topic at hand, or it’s not something you really want to get into you can say something like “I’m not really sure about that. Do you mean…?” and then go on to answer your own question.
The other thing you can do is deflect the answer by saying “That question would require a whole interview on its own. We don’t really have time to get into that today.” This answer not only lets the audience know that you have the expertise to talk about the subject at length; it also opens the door to be invited back if it’s really something the interviewer and their audience want more in-depth information on.
4. Script your answers
The great thing about having interview questions in advance, whether they’re created by you or the interview host, is that it gives you time to prepare your answers. This is especially important if you are nervous, shy, or just plain introverted like me.
One of the things that stuck with me from reading The Introvert Advantage years ago was that introverts think differently than extroverts. Our brains take longer to process the same stimuli, and we like to think about our answers before we speak. I remember this because it was such a freeing thought — it was okay for me to be a little slow in answering questions and it didn’t mean I was slow-witted; my brain just worked differently from all the quick-witted extroverts I hung out with at the time.
However… not to get too far off track here … in the context of an interview, that slower, pondering style of thinking doesn’t really work. When you’re doing a live interview and you’ve only got so much time, you don’t have the luxury of stopping the conversation while you think about what you want to say.
This is where scripting out your answers comes in handy. If you know what you’re going to say and you’ve practiced saying it before the interview, you will ease a lot of the nerves and anxiety that can go with being the centre of attention.
The other thing that scripting your answers does is gives you a written record of your interview questions. This comes in handy if you’re doing a marketing campaign, for example, and you’re doing a lot of interviews in a short period of time. You are likely to get the same questions over and over again. Scripting your answers gives you the chance to find different ways to answer so that repeat listeners in the audience don’t get bored hearing you say the same things over and over again.
5. Speak in plain English
This doesn’t just apply to English, but whichever language you are being interviewed in. You want to talk TO your audience, not down to them or over their heads. Speaking in plain, everyday language and avoiding the use of industry jargon will go a long way to developing a relationship with your audience.
If you do have to use jargon to get a point across, be sure to remember that one of the objectives of the interview is to educate the listeners. Make it a teachable moment, and explain to them exactly what the jargon means and why it’s important that it be used in the context of what you are trying to share with them.
6. Let the audience get to know you
Stick around here long enough and you will get fed a steady diet of “People do business with people they know, like, and trust.” Doing an interview is, in many cases, the first exposure people will have to you so be sure to let them get to know you, at least a little.
You don’t have to share your whole life story, but by incorporating bits and pieces of your personality and experiences into your answers you will show the audience that you are indeed a real person. This gives them the chance to decide whether they want to know more about you, and eventually trust you with their business.
Last, but definitely not least… remember to leave a door open at the end of the interview. Regardless of the specific intention of your interview, the overall point is to promote yourself. Be sure that people know how to contact you, and that you are open to hearing from them.