5 Mistakes to Avoid During Media Appearances

Video camera viewfinder - recording show in TV studio

Apparently, I hit a nerve with last week’s Savvy Sunday News because there was a deluge of responses. Most people commented that while reading it, they actually felt their hearts beat faster and their blood pressures go up, along with their cortisol levels. It’s here if you haven’t read it yet, or if you want a refresher.

I, for one, like to frame suggestions in the positive whenever possible, but even my recent series called Mistakes Authors Make (here, here, and here), generated a ton of feedback because of the word “mistakes.” I’m not sure what that means exactly as it pertains to human beings. Perhaps any PhDs reading this could chime in on that, but there is no doubt when labeling something “Mistakes”, it gets more attention. Let’s test that, shall we?

Here are five mistakes to avoid when you’re doing any kind of media appearances.

1. Assuming you’re a natural.

Almost no one is. Those who sound natural have had training, experience, and usually both. They’ve been doing it a while! If you haven’t done much of it, cut yourself a break.

One may get lots of great comments on “lives” and other social media appearances, but it’s important to remember that your tribe loves you. They aren’t going to give you feedback in terms of what you need to improve, but rather they’ll give you plenty of kudos expressing their love for you. One could totally do a horrible job, and they’d be saying, “You’re so amazing!” That’s nice, and we all love to hear it, but that is not going to prepare you for an actual earned media appearance.

2. Assuming you’re a natural because you’re a speaker.

I’ve worked with hundreds of speakers and have seen this time and time again: There is often a lack of understanding about the differences between being on stage (even a virtual one) and doing an interview. Media interviews are conversations; they are not opportunities to “hold court,” which, unfortunately, is something many speakers do.

Thinking you are a natural is tricky because confidence is tricky. On the one hand, confidence is absolutely necessary, but on the other hand, it’s really only helpful if we can see our own weaknesses, and make improvements upon them.

3. Providing long, meandering answers to questions.

Keep in mind that the length of the interview you’re going to do will determine how long your answers should be. A 4-minute television or online video segment is very different from a 60-minute podcast interview. With shorter interviews, you must be able to get across your key messages in soundbites and short explanations. Brevity is critical on camera, audio, and even during print interviews. Make it easy for interviewers to capture what’s important without having to sift through too much rambling. Remember with regard to the length of your responses there is a difference between a quote and a mention versus you being the subject of a feature.

4. Not preparing for interviews before they come your way.

If you are positioning yourself as an expert, then you want to be sure to stay up on research, trends, and news related to your field. Think about how you will share your ideas so you can articulate them easily and confidently, and so that you can easily answer questions about them.

5. Waiting until the day before you have an interview to get media training.

Don’t wait to get media training until the day before you have an interview. As soon as you start thinking about putting yourself out there, work with your trainer on clear messaging, responses to questions, and how to deal with being on the hot seat, as well as polishing your delivery.

Bottom line

As human beings, we all want to be good at what we do. That includes successful book promotion campaigns. By learning some key tips and strategies you will be in a position to do some amazing work. Often that begins by avoiding common mistakes.

To your success!


P.S. An author came for a strategy session the other day after having already done a series of interviews. We both knew that having the session beforehand would have made a huge difference, but it’s never too late. Don’t make that same mistake. Get the training before you step out there for the world to see. Learn more about it here.





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