Four mistakes you should be sure to avoid
“We will never have him back again! I’m exhausted!”
These are words you never want to have said about you after a radio or TV interview. I am the one who said them.
The target of my frustration is unquestionably an expert in his field; he is a researcher who had accomplished amazing things. He even has a bit of controversial attitude toward his subject matter which got me excited about the radio interview I was about to do with him; I was looking forward to speaking to this man who apparently had so much passion that he was standing up against some scientists to accomplish his goals. I expected good stuff.
It did not go as planned. This brilliant man did not shine as I had hoped. Here are a few reasons why:
1. His passion I had eagerly anticipated never surfaced in our conversation. He was a fact-driven person, as you might expect being a scientist, but a little humanness might have warmed him up a bit! No matter how I tried, his walls were so very tough, that even the slightest attempt at diverting the conversation to something non-statistical (“Just what is it about — your subject—- that means so much to you personally?”) was met with a seemingly predetermined factoid which fell short of answering the posed question.
2. His answers were painfully short with a frustrating tone of finality. My attempts to encourage him expand upon his answers drained my energy within a few minutes.
3. He was uninterruptible (Yes, I think I made up that word). When he would begin to go in a direction that I thought would be interesting to pursue, he was not flexible and the possible line of questions would go ignored unless I raised my voice higher than his forcing me to be way more aggressive than I had anticipated or wanted to be!
4. He was defensive. When I asked for his feedback on some criticism of his research, he attacked me instead of utilizing the opportunity to prove his points and strengthen his stance on the subject.
As the show host, quite honestly, at this point in the conversation, I could have saved him, but I already knew I wouldn’t be bringing him back and I let the interview end.
This is a clear example of why even the highly experienced experts should prepare for media exposure. A bit of training could have opened him up and given him the freedom of expression that would make a conversation flow. After all, an interview is a conversation, and every host knows the value of an easy and informative exchange of words! It feels good, and the audience stays tuned in! A well-spoken, prepared guest with clear message points and a positive outlook (no matter what the subject) can make a host’s job so much easier; it could turn one guest appearance into several. Even a small opportunity can lead to big exposure, so prepare and be ready out of the gate!