Category: Presentation Training

Betsy DeVos

The Betsy DeVos 60 Minutes Interview Debacle

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was interviewed by Lesley Stahl on CBS’s 60 Minutes Sunday night.

Her goal was to highlight the Trump Administration’s views on education policy and school choice. Instead, one stunningly flat-footed exchange went viral almost immediately, calling into question her knowledge about public schools, school choice, and the very agency she leads.

In this post, I’ll focus on where she went wrong and how leaders and spokespersons can better prepare for challenging interviews.


Lord Bell: Loud Cell + Lousy Sell = Interview Hell

Some media disaster posts write themselves.

Lord Timothy Bell—co-founder of one of the UK’s largest PR firms—is no stranger to controversy. His firm has engaged in propaganda campaigns and boasts a controversial client list. But his firm’s dubious work in South Africa may lead to the demise of the firm he started.

If his goal in this BBC interview was to help preserve his reputation, let’s just say it didn’t work.


Air Canada’s CEO Tries — And Fails — To Control An Interview

It’s not uncommon for some executives, who are used to being in control and angered when they’re challenged, to lash out during a media interview.

Unfortunately for Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu, it’s also not uncommon for reporters to punish executives for their unappealing tone.

For an interview published in The Globe and Mail, reporter Trevor Cole asked a series of seemingly fair questions about the airline. Rovinescu’s tone shifted when he didn’t like a few questions—and he answered sarcastically and defensively through much of the rest of the interview.


Dallas Cowboys Coach Gives The Same Non-Answer 10 Times

News reports revealed last week that Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Lucky Whitehead had been arrested for shoplifting $25 from a Virginia convenience store. Wasting no time, the Cowboys cut Whitehead from the team later that day.

There was only one problem. He didn’t do it.

But the Cowboys didn’t apologize. Instead, head coach Jason Garrett defended the team’s decision to cut Whitehead during a very strange press conference by repeating the same evasive statement 10 times. Here’s the video and the fallout.

Disaster Plan Notebook iStockPhoto

My Worst Media Interview Ever

A reader recently asked me: “What was the worst media interview you ever gave? What did you learn from it?”

Fortunately, I’ve never had an outright media disaster. But my mind immediately went to an interview I gave in 2010 about what scientists should expect from their interactions with the media.

The story that resulted from that interview was harmless. But my experience during the interview was bruising, and taught me several important lessons.


Ken Starr: Don’t Do Your Media Training During The Actual Interview!

I’ve written about hundreds of media disasters over the past decade, but I’ve never seen anything quite like this.

The subject of this interview is Ken Starr, whose work as independent counsel in the 1990s led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. In later years (and until this week) he was president and chancellor of Baylor University — where he was forced out due to his poor handling of rape allegations at his school.

I’ve rarely seen someone do their media training during an actual interview — but that’s essentially what happened here.


Classic Clip: When You’re The Wrong Guest On Live Television

What should you do when you show up for a job interview at a network, get confused for an expert who was booked as a television guest, and get thrust without warning onto the set for a live on-camera interview?

That’s the exact question that faced a job applicant named Guy Goma 10 years ago this month. His answer was to proceed with the interview as if he was the actual guest.

He looked panicked at first, but bluffed his way through rather impressively.


Here’s How Chris Matthews Forced A Donald Trump Abortion Error

Donald Trump earned condemnation from liberals and conservatives alike on Wednesday for stating that women who get abortions should receive “some form of punishment.”

Trump’s campaign quickly realized he had committed a major error and went into overdrive to correct it. During one cleanup interview, his spokesperson admitted, “This was a complete misspeak.”

Interviewer Chris Matthews used a specific technique to knock Trump off script — and our trainees fall victim to it often.

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