Plan for Your Success with Interview Topics

Plan for Success with Interview Topics

I work with many different types of clients but one thing they all have in common is the robust amount of work they’ve created. So much so, that when it comes to developing media materials — and later when doing interviews — it’s challenging for them to express their ideas due to the sheer volume of them.

  • They freeze while trying to capture their key messages because there’s so much to say and they don’t want to leave anything out.
  • Launching an interview is hard because they’re unsure how to determine what to leave in and what to leave out, particularly during that critical first forty-five seconds to one minute on the interview launch.
  • They wonder how they can pitch only one idea at a time for a show or story when ten ideas are equally important.

One of my favorite questions to ask in response to this conundrum  is, “When you went on your first date with your significant other, did you tell him or her every single thing about yourself that first night, thinking, “Well, he should know everything about me,” or, “There’s no way she’ll be able to decide if she wants to go on a second date with me unless I am completely honest and tell her all about my ex and why we didn’t make it.”

My guess is no, you didn’t tell him or her every little thing about yourself for a variety of reasons. The main one probably being you didn’t want to completely scare him or her off forever.

It’s the same when it comes to promoting your book. If you are introducing someone to your work for the first time, you don’t want to go into every single fact and detail because you will overwhelm them and ultimately lose them. That’s definitely not the intention.

Instead, you want to give an overview of the highlights so that you pique their interest and get them to want to know more. You have to ignore or let go of that urge to try and explain everything and instead hold back some of your thoughts and ideas. This is about teasing and flirting and sharing some of your best stuff so they want more.

This fear of forgetting an important key message is more common than you might think. The trick is to think of your interaction like a conversation. You share a little, then they share a little. You share some more, they share some more, all the while in your mind you are strategically mapping out how you’re going to hit each of your important points.

In addition to burning into your brain your key message and planning out your forty-five second interview launch, there is a piece I developed for press kits that alleviates those feelings of having left something out. I call it the Interview Topics sheet.

Here’s how it works

You may be pitching one idea because it ties in well to current news events or the calendar, but you also want your potential host or journalist to know you can address more than just that one idea. The Interview Topics sheet solves this problem.

One reason it is so effective is that the media person may not like the topic you’re currently pitching, but when they see everything else you can address on the Interview Topics sheet, they may find that #4 is perfect for them! You got yourself an interview. So how do you create this piece?

Here’s the process

Authors need to be able to take their book and break it out into different chunks. Sit down and pull up a blank document on your laptop, or pull out a paper notebook. I want you to do two things:

  1. Make a list of all the different markets you want to reach
  2. Create a list of subjects you can address for each market

Each of these ideas can make up the bullet points on your Interview Topics sheet.


My client Steve Brown has a book called The Innovation Ultimatum. Markets we have targeted include: Tech, Leadership and Management, Entrepreneurs and Small Business, Workplace, and Careers. I created a page for each market.

Then, within each market we figured out what subjects and angles media covering that market would be most interested in hearing about.

The issue of this particular book is how technology is going to disrupt every business on the planet as six different technologies mature at the same time. If the interview or story is about how business is going to change with this new technology over the next two years, the approach is different for leadership and management as compared to the workplace and careers. The basic topic is the same (innovation), but when you’re writing to leaders it’s often about surviving, thriving and making a profit, as opposed to careers when you’re speaking directly to employees.

Again, the Interview Topics sheet lists the different subjects the author can discuss in an interview. It’s a great way to present your ideas on what you can discuss without feeling like you have to list everything in every single pitch.

Additional steps

Here are some additional questions to ask yourself as you consider what specifically you want to talk about regarding your book and/or your work:

What is the most important message you want to convey to your target audience? Keep in mind that the way you pitch the media, or the gatekeeper, may be different than the way you would speak directly to your audience.

For example

Let’s say you have a book on self care. You are clear that a lot of people need to incorporate more self care into their daily lives and you know the best tips to give them. But there are a lot of books on self care, and chances are the media person you’re going to pitch has heard from many if not all of them. Therefore, when you pitch him or her you have to state very clearly how you are different and unique from all the other authors and books on that subject.

Additional questions to ask yourself

When you consider your work and your book, ask yourself the following:

  • What do you stand for?
  • What are the wrongs you want to right in the world?
  • What are your beliefs?
  • What gets you up in the morning excited about promoting your book?
  • What do people need to hear?
  • What are your own observations and motivations for speaking up and speaking out?
  • What are all the interview topics that you can speak to?

Get the answers to these questions out of your head and onto a document. This alone will put you ahead of the game.

Get planning

You‘ve perhaps heard me say that I am a planner. It’s not that everything in life goes according to plan, which is evident when we think of the year 2020. After all, no one planned this in spite of the conspiracy theories out there. But if you have no plan you have no road map and everyone needs a road map. If nothing else, a road map tells your brain what direction to work toward, so write it all down. You can always revise, reorder, and rework it, but start by writing it down.

Final question

Here’s one last very important question to ask yourself:

What conversations do you want to start? Or better yet, what are the three conversations that are up to you to start?

Now that’s worth reflecting on and thinking about.

Bottom line

Each of these ideas can be a bullet point and paragraph on your Interview Topics sheet. Getting ideas out of your head and down on paper has power you cannot believe. You no longer have to worry that you’re going to forget one of your key messages. This can make all the difference when promoting your book, and it will allow you to pitch one idea knowing full well you can expand that into many different areas of your work and your book.

To your success!


P.S.: Making a plan is the single best way to get off on the right foot and successfully promote your book. If you want help making that plan, then a Media Strategy Session may be just the ticket for you. If interested, you can find out more right here.






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