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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Comments (7)

  1. By Deborah:

    Brad,
    I think you are like that woman with the bumpy hair….focusing on the small stuff. I listened more than watched and I didn’t notice any of the things you are pointing out. And the issue about bringing up private information should be something you bring up to Bob. It was absolutely irrelevant to the conversation.

    Deborah

  2. By Brad Phillips:

    Deborah,

    Thanks for your nice comment, and great memory regarding the woman with “bumpy hair!”

    I’m glad to know that you thought the interview came across well (despite what I perceived) as my own interviewing flaws. Thank you for taking the time to listen to it.

    Happy Friday,
    Brad

  3. By Jacqui:

    Hi Brad,

    You sounded confident and knowledgeable but friendly and accessible. The bumpy hair story really stood out for me. I also enjoyed the personal responses about Koppel, Blitzer, and the curmudgeon – thought you handled questions about them very gracefully.

    Jacqui

  4. By Liz:

    I think you’re too hard on yourself. It’s an engaging conversation and interesting to listen to. You are clearly well-informed and knowledgeable about your subject. It’s clear you have a relationship (via email) with the interviewer, which makes it even more genuine and fun to listen to. (And, btw, congratulations!! ;O) Very exciting!)

  5. By Brad Phillips:

    Liz and Jacqui,

    Thank you both so much for your comments!

    Perhaps I am being like that woman with the “bumpy hair” (that story is here for those of you who may have missed it: http://www.mrmediatraining.com/2012/08/27/practicing-for-interviews-focus-on-what-matters/). Still, my feeling is that even if I’m doing many of the big things well, there’s always room for improvement on some of the smaller things.

    If you’ll pardon the sports analogy, I think of a great baseball player, who knows he shouldn’t be satisfied with a .300 season. He’ll aim to go .310 the next season while hitting a few more homeruns, and may aim for .320 the following season while adding some stolen bases.

    But thanks for letting me know I’m being a bit too hard on myself – it’s comforting. And Liz, thank you for your congratulations!

    Be well,
    Brad

  6. By Scott:

    Do you have a checklist of things to look for when reviewing media appearances? Or does the book contain one?

  7. By John:

    Hi Brad!

    I know this isn’t your most recent post, but reading it this morning I was struck by this particular point, given my recent week (which you know about, I’m sure ):

    “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.”

    Given I’ve never experienced a book launch before at all, much less my own, I found myself in conversation and even emails this week very much suffering from Energetic Monotone (you should trademark that). Being so excited, so overwhelmed by people displaying support, and so eager to “dive into the promotions thing” that I more than once strayed into energetic monotone.

    It occurred to me in the silence of this morning that, given the rather serious tone of my work, overt eagerness might actually send a mixed message to potential readers. “Come on, everyone, step right up! Read the amazing story of a woman who loses her husband in a fiery crash and has to rebuild the relationship with her estranged son” (not my plot, but works for demonstration purposes).

    I chalk it up to nerves, plain and simple. Probably the best suggestion is to breathe, or take a second before answering the question, be it a live interview or simply a friend phoning to offer congratulations.

    Now if I can just follow my own advice ;).

    Take care, Brad
    (and congrats on your other news)

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