Advice for those Preparing for Media Interviews


Author: Faith in Later Life

Over the past few months, I’ve had the pleasure of talking to a number of Faith in Later Life Church Champions who have been invited to speak on local and national radio stations—some have even been on TV. After seeing that I had been on the radio too, a couple from our working group asked whether I might write about speaking on the radio, to which I replied, “I’m still learning too!”

So, I reached out to a friend of mine, Dave Piper, who works for TWR-UK, a Christian Radio Station, and asked if he had any tips about how to conduct one’s self in an interview, as well as anything he thought it would be best to avoid.

After pondering the question for a while, here’s what he said:

Three Tips — To-Do List:

1)    Check the Angle

Let’s be honest, you’ve likely come into the room with a particular idea of what you’d like to cover, but you need to remember that the interviewer might be prepared for an entirely different angle. Before you begin, ask the interviewer where she wants to go with the topic. This is also a subtle way to find out what sort of questions they might cover to help you mentally prepare.

2)    Human Interest

Stories and illustrations are a perfect way to illustrate the main points you want to make, they are a great way of helping people remember what you’ve said, as well as making sure that the listener knows that what you’re saying is more than just theory. It’s a great idea to have two or three of these ready in your back pocket.

3)    The Key

Before you’ve even come into the room, think about the key “take home” point is that you want to leave listeners with. Once you’ve asked about the angle, and thought through your stories, you can often find creative ways to weave it into the answers and make sure to fit it into the angle the interviewer is coming at the issue from.

Dave’s Bonus Tip:

“Don’t answer everything in one go. If you end an answer on a cliff-hanger, it can prompt the interviewer to follow your direction of travel for the interview!”

Three Tips — Not To-Do List:

1)    One Word Answers

The first question is often the most important, even if they just say, “Thanks for joining us”, that’s an in to (briefly!) introduce the Key we mentioned before and whet the listener’s appetite: for example, “Oh, it’s great to be with you – and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to tell you about “x”…”

2)    Bluffing

If you don’t know, or haven’t got the info, just say something like “That’s a really good question, but I’ve actually not got the information to hand and so I can’t give you a full answer at the moment – maybe after this interview, I can find out and come back to you on another occasion?”

3)    Shrinking

Make sure you don’t lack confidence in yourself as a spokesperson. The interviewer is reaching out because they believe you have something to say, therefore; you do! The British “I’m not worthy!” mentality is incredibly hard to shrug off, but if leaned into it can come across on camera or through the microphone.

Adsum’s Bonus Tip: Don’t Worry.

We’re all learning this together, I’ve made mistakes, you’ll probably make mistakes, that’s just life. Whether this is the only interview you ever do, or one of a thousand to come, remember that the goal isn’t your own fame, but that of the Lord. Glorify God, even with the short time you have, and that will be enough.

Grace and Peace,

Adsum Try Ravenhill & Dave Piper