Five Things I Wish I Had Done Better In This Interview

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on January 11, 2013 – 6:02 am

Over the past three years, I’ve critiqued hundreds of media interviews. When I see a spokespersons on television, I can’t help but to identify their strengths and weaknesses as communicators.

So when I watched back the video of an interview I did with Bob Andelman (known as “Mr. Media”) earlier this week, I couldn’t help noticing all of the flaws in my own performance. No, this interview wasn’t a bomb, and I doubt many people would look at it and say I did badly. But there’s no denying that it could have been better.

So today, I’m going to turn my pen onto myself. (After all, if I’m going to criticize others, I should be willing to be self-critical, as well!)

Here are five things I wish I had done better in this interview.

1. I Forgot My “Tight” Answer: A few days ago, I wrote a post featuring ten questions every author should be ready to answer. So when Bob asked me, “Why did you write this book?” I should have had a tight answer ready to go. The thing is, I did. But when he asked the question, I went blank. The good news is that you’d probably never know that I went blank since I answered the question without hesitating. But the answer I wanted to give temporarily eluded my grasp. You’ll hear the “right” answer at the very end of that reply.

2. I Gave a Clumsy NRA Answer: When discussing a topic that elicits such strong emotion as the National Rifle Association, you have to be particularly careful in your word choice. At one point, I referred to the gun show loophole as a “small thing.” That isn’t a word choice I’m comfortable with. I could have avoided that altogether by cutting off my answer a minute sooner. In general, many of my answers were too long. And as I tell others, the more you say, the more you stray.

3. I Nodded Too Much: At times, I looked like a Bobblehead Doll. It’s okay to nod along while listening to a question (assuming you agree with the premise), but a little goes a long way.

4. I Lapsed Into the “Energetic Monotone”: I had a lot of energy in the interview—but sometimes, energy without variety can lead to what I call the “energetic monotone.” It’s a good idea to vary your energy throughout an interview and occasionally break your vocal pattern when making a key point (doing so helps regain the audience’s attention). I should have slowed down and gotten quieter at a few moments when making an important point.

5. I Forgot One TINY Detail: I’ve gotten to know Bob through the years, and we occasionally trade emails. In a recent email, I mentioned to him that my wife and I are expecting our first child in March. I’ve never stated that publicly before, and hoped to have it remain private. But I failed to tell Bob that, so he brought it up in the interview (as he had every right to do). As I’ve written before, there’s no such thing as an “official interview” – everything you say before and after an “official” interview is reportable. 

Conclusion

Yes, I write a media training blog and also recently published a media training book – so it might seem odd that I made some of these mistakes. But one of the points I make in The Media Training Bible is just how important it is to review your own media appearances and continue to learn from them. I may never reach media “perfection.” But I sure as hell am going to keep striving for it.

Okay, now it’s your turn. What else could I have done better in this interview? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

(Note: Despite the similarity of our names, “Mr. Media” Bob Andelman is not related to the Mr. Media Training Blog. But he does great work, so you should check him out!)

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  • About Mr. Media Training

    The Mr. Media Training Blog offers daily tips to help readers become better media spokespersons and public speakers. It also examines how well (or poorly) public figures are communicating through the media.

    Brad Phillips is the Founder and Managing Editor of the Mr. Media Training Blog. He is the president of Phillips Media Relations, a media and presentation training firm with offices in NYC and DC.

    Brad Phillips

    Before founding Phillips Media Relations in 2004, Brad worked as a journalist with ABC's Nightline with Ted Koppel and CNN's Reliable Sources and The Capital Gang.

    Brad tweets at @MrMediaTraining.

    Christina Mozaffari is the Senior Writer for the Mr. Media Training Blog. She is the Washington, D.C. vice president for Phillips Media Relations.

    Brad Phillips

    Before joining Phillips Media Relations in 2011, Christina worked as a journalist with NBC News, where she produced stories for MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, NBC Nightly News, and The Today Show.

    Christina tweets at @PMRChristina.

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