For some, an invitation to speak on camera is exhilarating. These individuals have a natural comfort speaking in front of an audience and exude confidence and charisma. Others loathe the idea.
If you’re one of those individuals whose palms start sweating or your heart starts racing at the mere mention of “on camera,” don’t let the fear dissuade you from speaking with a video journalist.
Learning how the media works and what they are looking for in a story can help you communicate your message more effectively. Here are five tips to help you feel more comfortable speaking on camera.
1. Know the media outlet.
If a reporter has contacted you or before you head to an event where media might be present, become familiar with the news outlet(s) and reporter(s) in advance. Study the topics of most interest to those media contacts and learn the tone of their interviews. Some reporters just want the facts, and others are looking for more "color" and feel-good stories.
2. Know the lingo.
“Off the record” is accepted to mean that the source of the comment will not be named or identified with the information. It can also be referred to as “not for attribution,” meaning the interviewee will not be directly quoted.
Speaking “off the record” is a slippery slope. When the approach is used, it must be declared and agreed upon between the reporter and the source prior to the interview beginning. You can’t make a statement in the middle of an interview and follow it with, “That’s off the record.”
3. Know the topic.
When a reporter requests an interview, inquire about the details and the tone of the coverage. It’s okay to ask them to send you the questions beforehand. It depends on the media outlet and the topic to be covered whether the reporter will comply. Sometimes coverage is impromptu, which doesn’t allow for requesting questions in advance.
4. Know your comfort level.
In situations where you’re unable to respond to a reporter's questions or are not comfortable responding to a reporter’s questions, it’s better to respond with a statement such as “I'm not prepared to discuss that topic in the interview,” than to say “No comment.” Redirect the conversation or acknowledge it’s not a topic you’re ready to discuss.
5. Know the facts.
It is inevitable that at some point you will be asked to comment on controversial subjects. These topics might range from legislative issues to disease outbreaks, medication rules or use, animal extremists campaigns and more. When handling controversial issues, always state the documented facts and limit your comments to those.
Research conducted by the Predictive Media Network stated that, “You have about a one in five chance you’ll get asked a hypothetical question in an interview.” The best way to handle those questions is to stick to the facts.