I am often interviewed on podcasts, TV shows, and radio about my work. Sometimes it is about Hollywood issues or production questions. Sometimes it may be about my passion to see Christians use media effectively to tell their stories or ways in which Christian professionals can stay aligned and engaged with God. But whenever I approach an interview, I try to remember that it’s not about me. It’s about engaging the listener. How can I share the wisdom and knowledge that God’s taught me so that those listening might be empowered, enlightened, and flourish? How can I share God’s heart so that His Kingdom’s purposes might be done? I want those listening to see God living in me. It’s about Him.
Here are a few tips I have learned in sharing the mission and vision of Influence Women and that of The Influence Lab. As others put a mic in front of you because of your creative work or passion, be ready and confident to not only share your artistic project or production but share God’s hope and love and how His life living within you makes all the difference.
- Research the Interviewer
Familiarize yourself with the interviewer’s audience, format, and style. What is the length of the interview? If it’s 15 minutes, make your answers short and to the point. If it’s 45 minutes, you will have more time to expound or go into detail. Most importantly, research their audience. What are their listeners focused on, and what will they find valuable from your work, insight, and comments? Your goal is to connect and unite the listener.
- Create Talking Points
Put yourself in their place and ask yourself the questions they are curious about and would want to find out about. These are the questions they likely will ask you. What are the FAQs you always seem to get? Then develop a list of key points and be prepared with stories that illustrate those points. Stories are essential. You won’t remember them if you don’t have them prepared. Stories connect and engage listeners, so use them. Then tell your stories and share your ideas and answers so that they are concise and clear. State clearly your mission and engage and captivate the listener’s heart with your vision.
Find places to insert your website, social media handles, and books and materials so the audience can connect back to you later without it sounding too self-promoting. Make sure you spell it out for them too. I have to remind my audiences that I have an “e” at the end of my last name so that if they are searching for me online, they need to remember I am Kathleen Cook-E.
This is one of the most important rules. What is the interviewer really wanting to know and asking? Is there an underlying agenda? If you are given a difficult or out-of-the-blue question, take a pause if you need to, and then respond with an authentic comment. Sometimes, I give myself a moment by saying, “That’s a great question,” or “Let me think about that question for a second.” Be real, and if it’s something you can’t answer, say, “I’m not an expert, but my personal feeling is…” or “I’m not really sure, I will have to research that myself.”
Record yourself. Your smartphone has lots of recording Apps, so get one and listen to yourself for your tone, volume, and pacing (everyone talks fast, so slow it down if you need to). I tend to get louder when I get passionate or excited. Check your enunciation of words, especially if you have a regional or foreign accent. Listen to your speech patterns. Do you say unnecessary and repetitive words – “so,” “like,” or “ya know,” or take too many pauses with “ahhs” or “ums?”
The goal is for you to leave an impact on the audience and communicate effectively with your content, your presentation, and, most importantly, with a heart for others. Be genuine with your responses so that your work and nonprofit hits home with listeners. Most TV shows, radio shows, or podcasts won’t pay you for your time, so use the interview to share your heart and passion for what God’s called you to do. Change someone’s thinking. Change their life!
So don’t hide your light! Let it shine brightly before others, so that your commendable works will shine as light upon them, and then they will give their praise to your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (Passion Bible)