Friend of mine's got an important media interview this morning and asked me for some quick last-minute tips. Here's what I told him:
1. Breathe. Seems obvious, bears repeating. Too many of us forget this when we're on the spot, but it's crucial. Breathing brings oxygen and other important stuff to our brains, so we can think. It also relaxes us so we don't look and sound tense, which is especially important in interviews that are for radio/podcast or video/television.
TAKE-AWAY: Take a breath before you answer a question! Bonus: This gives you a little more time to think about a great answer.
2. Stand. When it's possible, stand up. Why? Two reasons. Again, it helps you breathe better. But it often helps us think more clearly. We focus rather than ramble. This is easy when the interview's on the phone or a quick one in the hall at a conference. But it can work, too, for short in-person interviews.
TAKE-AWAY: Get on your feet or at least sit up straight!
3. Think. It would be nice if you had questions in advance, but that rarely happens and even when it does, it doesn't mean those are the only questions you'll get. So instead of trying to script answers to questions you might get, develop a theme or two that you can build answers around on the fly.
TAKE-AWAY: Map out a few key message themes but don't sweat the individual answers.