Performing in media can be a stressful
experience, particularly for younger athletes who might be unfamiliar with the way
in which media works.
We all want to put our best foot
forward when it comes to appearing in public, but without existing knowledge,
sometimes it can be confusing as to where to start.
This guide aims to provide you with
three simple ideas that when implemented, put you in control of your media performance.
Whilst there is no substitute for experience, rest assured there are easy steps
you can take to be ready when it’s time for action.
The first step to avoiding the nerves
and stress of a media interview is to appropriately prepare.
Preparation doesn’t need to be
arduous. Think about WHO you are speaking to, WHAT the subject matter is and
WHY they want to hear from you? When you combine these questions together, you can
calibrate your thoughts and put yourself in a clear position to confidently
control your response.
To elaborate further, as athletes,
you can generally get a good sense for what the story is going to cover by
thinking about why you’re newsworthy. If you’ve just been selected for your
first national team and a reporter comes calling, it’s fairly logical that
they’ll be interested in covering that angle. Similarly, if you’re interviewed
after running a new personal best or after scoring the winning goal in a match,
it won’t take wild guess to predict what questions you’ll be faced with.
Understanding the different approach
of different media outlets is another guaranteed way to boost your preparation.
A local paper will always focus on local issues, whereas a commercial radio
station will centre on personality and profile. If your National Sporting
Organisation seek to boost your profile, it will be with the sport’s interests
attached. The questions will always mirror the purpose. By understanding this,
you can predict that a local newspaper will ask about your first club, you can
predict that commercial radio will ask personality driven questions and you can
predict that your NSO will focus on your sport and pathway.
By taking a prepared approach, you’ll
be ready for questions and have insightful responses set to go.
- Don’t forget you can always ask! If
you’re approached for a media interview, feel free to quiz them on what
the topics are and when and where the story will run.
We’re all familiar with the concept
of first impressions. With media it’s no different. Dress appropriately
for the occasion.
Neat and tidy appearance should be a
given, but it also pays to consider what format of media you’re preparing for.
If you’re invited for a photoshoot or a television story, you can be confident
that they’ll want to showcase you in your sport specific training/competition
gear. Most media professionals will advise on necessary items for you to bring
ahead of a photo shoot/press opportunity, but it always pays to think for
yourself. After all, a reporter mightn’t know what equipment you use, and a
photographer may have no idea how you put it into practical use.
Common sense is the key. If you’re
representing WAIS, have your WAIS gear ready. If you’re promoting your national
team, have your national kit prepared. When in doubt, ask!
Presentation still applies to print
and radio formats. How you respond to a question will in turn reflect upon you,
once it’s gone to print or hits the airwaves. Avoid jargon and acronyms that
readers/listeners mightn’t understand and be sure to speak calmly and clearly
so that you can be easily understood.
Body language is vital. Show
interest! Make eye contact, present authority in your delivery. If you’re
slumped in a chair and give an impression of disinterest, what opinion is the
reporter likely to form? And they’re the ones telling your story!
- Remember that all of this is in your
control. You hold a great deal more influence over your media performance
than you might think.
It’s okay to enjoy media interviews.
Chat with reporters and staff beforehand and build rapport by asking them
questions about what they’ve been up to, or find out what they know about your
sport. If you can give them info that they didn’t already know, you’re making
their job easier and establishing trust and professionalism. Smile, laugh and
act like the fabulous person you are! It always shines through in the finished
There’s nothing more painful than
listening to a robotic interview with stereotyped or clichéd answers (think
politicians!). If you’re fun to speak with and give great responses, you can
guarantee that journalists, sponsors, fans and audiences will be far more
likely to warm to your message or cause!
- The second the questioner finishes
asking the question – the baton of control is firmly placed in your hands.
Drive your communication goals and be the person that you want the
audience to know.
Next time you’re involved with a
media interview or appearance, start with the three pillars for media success:
Preparation, Presentation and Personality.
- WAIS Corporate Communications