How to learn from your (bad) media interviews

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Every hit isn’t a home run. And not all media interviews go smoothly. Here’s how to take your lemons and turn them into lemonade…

Have you ever bombed on a media interview?

If you’re being honest, the answer is almost certainly yes. No one is perfect and interviews are stressful. But my next question is even harder. What did you do about it?

While it’s just about impossible to repair a media interview that’s gone awry, the far more important issue is that you learn something from your mistakes.

  • For example, did you repeat a negative comment that the reporter made? (Perhaps you said, “No, we are not greedy corporate leeches because…” In fact, you should have simply answered, “I disagree, because…”)
  • Or maybe you became angry when the reporter said something belligerent. (This happened to me once many years ago. I didn’t realize I’d been “manipulated” until the reporter became warm and cheerful as soon as I’d lost it.)
  • Possibly, you weren’t prepared to answer a question, and, making matters far worse, you simply guessed at an answer.

If any of these things happened, you’ll have to suck up the consequences. But at least learn never to make the same mistake again. I suggest you buy yourself a notebook OR dedicate a file on your hard-drive to lessons that you’ve learned. Following each media interview, jot yourself a few notes about what went wrong and what went right.

Then — and here’s the important part — be sure to read through this notebook or file before your next media interview. As James Joyce put it, “mistakes are the portals of discovery.”

Fail better. Learn more.

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