Monday, March 24, 2008

Things That Irk an Interviewer

Recently, a newsmaker hit the trifecta. That's right, he committed three sins in one short interview. First, when I was introducing him in a live setting, he corrected information HE GAVE ME from his bio, as in "I'm not really living there yet. I'm in City X." Well, then, don't put City Y in the document you send me. And why bring it up anyway when time is short and you're trying to sell books?

Second, he was slow putting sentences together. So when my colleague tried to help him out, the guest asked, "Well, what do you expect when it's 5:30 am?" Don't accept early morning interviews if you're not a morning lark. And worse, if you do, don't complain about it. No one is holding a gun to your head.

Third, in response to three questions, the fellow said, "Well, my co-author is really the expert on that. Here's what I think he would say..." If you can't speak for your co-author, don't accept the interview.

I'm not mad at the guest. He just needs coaching. I'm mad at the publicist who told me this guy was high-energy and articulate. He was neither.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Lessons from the Campaign, Part Two

Since I promised to give coaching tips to each candidate, Mike Huckabee has dropped out of the race, but I'll still give him advice, since some of you may benefit. With each candidate, I'll explain how you can apply the tip to yourself.

Huckabee--Watch the 5 o'clock shadow, Governor. It makes you look tired. And don't complain during the debate about the questions and time you're not getting. Instead, inspire and make the most of every second.

For everyone: Make sure you don't need a touch-up shave for a late-night interview or speech. Focus on the positive instead of complaining. Reporters don't like nags.

John McCain--Don't get short and testy with reporters. They will just report on your temper again. Instead, invite them to another barbecue.

For everyone: Don't say things to reporters such as, "That's not news." Don't yell at reporters. Don't curse reporters. You'll likely end up on YouTube. Reporters don't like to be yelled at.

Hillary Clinton--Spend time with a voice coach. When you raise your voice in rallies or when making a point in a debate, your voice gets shrill, strained and flat.

For everyone: If you do a lot of interviews or a lot of speeches, your voice could be damaged or strained. Consider hiring a voice coach. Reporters get tired of grating voices.
Typically, you can find a speech or voice expert at your local community college. Help can be had for as little as $50 per hour.

Barack Obama--When you're on your game, you're engaging and inspirational. Every once in a while though, we get a cutaway during a rally or a debate and you appear to be stifling a yawn or going cross-eyed with fatigue. Get some rest.

For everyone: As media savvy as you may be, remember Vince Lombardi. The coach told his players, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all." Rest makes your skin glow and your voice resonate. Rest makes you think faster and articulate your thoughts easier. Reporters will get drowsy if you're boring. So keep them on their toes by being at your rested best.