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Gaining media attention for your company is very positive for your brand image. However, being the one to speak on behalf of your team is still a daunting task for most. PR professionals are trained in this, but all of your company’s leaders should be prepared to handle interviews with the press, especially for major events and opportunities to reach out to the public.

If you are asked to speak to an interviewer, it is an opportunity for your company and your professional reputation and recognition. Here are a few tips to help you get through your first encounter with the press.

Many people don’t know this, but you can ask your interviewer questions in advance. Most reporters are more than happy to make the experience easier for you, especially if you can prepare your answers to important topics in advance. Remember, though, that interviews are supposed to be interactive. You’re not rehearsing a presentation—keep your answers conversational and try not to memorize lines to specific questions.

It’s important to practice self-awareness when you speak. In everyday conversation, you’re usually not thinking about how you talk, what gestures or facial expressions you use, or what tone your voice has. Rehearse in front of a mirror, or have a friend practice with you, and take note of any distracting gestures, voice inflections, or filler words you use and try to eliminate them. For example, do you use many “us” or stammer when you talk? If so, be conscientious of this in the interview as best you can.

When it’s time to interview, focus on the reporter rather than the audience. If you’re on camera, don’t look at the crew or the crowd in front of you. Talk directly to the interviewer, and pretend like it’s just a one-on-one conversation between the two of you. Not only will this help calm your nerves, but it will help you stay focused. You want to keep your attention on the reporter if they ask a complicated or unexpected question.

Finally, when you’re speaking, try not to get emotional. If you become flustered or are unprepared for a reporter’s question, it is easy to slip up, stall, or show your emotions with your facial expressions. If you are calm and think through your responses, people will respect them even if they disagree. Nothing is worse in an interview than someone immaturely arguing with the reporter or becoming hot-headed about a controversial issue.

The hardest part about interviewing is feeling natural when you’re on camera or in front of a large audience. Not everyone has natural confidence when put in the spotlight, but there should be nothing to worry about if you prepare. If this is your first significant role as a company spokesperson, work with a PR specialist to help you practice and learn tactics to overcome your nerves.

Tucker/Hall works with our clients to train business leaders in public speaking and media relations. You can work one-on-one with your PR professional to prepare for significant events and interviews. To talk to a Tucker/Hall representative, contact us.