March 25, 2023 7:38 am

My photographer set up the lights and steadied the camera. The surgeon ahead of me was pale and fidgeting. As a seasoned tv news journalist, I had observed this numerous occasions before—a surgeon at the major of their field, terrified that they would tank on tv. I did my most effective to stroll her via the approach and calm her nerves. I would have been equally terrified in her part in the operating space. It is all-natural to worry the unknown.

As the public affairs manager for Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, I use my insider expertise to empower and enable ease the nerves of our physicians and scientists by preparing them for media interviews. Interviewing with journalists is 1 of the most successful methods you can share your perform with the neighborhood and enable market your institution, which can be nicely worth the discomfort.

Right here are five strategies and tricks to enable you shine when the spotlight is on you.

Tip 1: Do not Keep away from Interview Possibilities

Avoiding journalists suggests your institution’s public affairs coverage suffers. Half the battle is getting prepared to show up and agree to an interview. The extra you do it, the less difficult it gets.

See media interviews as a networking chance. Media interviews are a extremely successful way to share your knowledge. In a single 20-minute interview, you can attain thousands, hundreds of thousands, or extra men and women with significant messages about prevention, screenings, and common wellness. “I want medical doctors and scientists recognized how numerous great stories they have in their day-to-day perform,” Deanie Wimmer, anchor and reporter with KSL-Television in Salt Lake City, Utah, mentioned. “When you know of encouraging treatment options, new study, or inspiring individuals, we’d really like to know about it. These all supply meaningful information and facts that we would like to relay to tv audiences. Understandably, there are complications, [such as] peer critique, scientific requirements, and confidentiality, that at times preclude medical doctors from sharing that information and facts. But I can not enable but consider there are missed possibilities.”

In my perform, I have landed many stories, most not too long ago with NBC News, by asking the reporter I was operating with the uncomplicated comply with-up query: “What type of stories are you searching for?” Ask this query although the crew is setting up or soon after your interview. It is a opportunity to pitch your institution’s study and clinical care. They are constantly searching for content material to fill the web page, show, or podcast, and this is your opportunity to see extra of your perform featured.

Fully grasp that journalism is deadline driven. Newsrooms generally program content material from that morning’s editorial meeting. That is when producers and the news director make a decision which stories to pursue that day. From time to time they can give us notice ahead of time on a request, but other occasions, it is final minute. It all depends on the news cycle. Joining a Zoom meeting on your lunch hour or setting aside 20 minutes for an in-particular person interview ahead of or soon after clinic can be tricky, but fitting it in assists the location you perform for develop into a trusted supply amongst journalists. This increases the excellent and quantity of stories that function your institution, its reputation, all round mentions, and extra. “The most popular aggravation is accessibility,” Wimmer, who has won numerous Emmy Awards for her perform, mentioned. “Their definition of ‘soon’ is typically distinct from ours. I have in thoughts later currently, [whereas] they’re considering, ‘sometime subsequent week.’”

Brush up on your media education ahead of the interview. Assessment this short article or media strategies supplied by your public relations teams. If this is not your initially interview, don’t forget what worked nicely final time and what you’d like to do superior in the future.

Tip two: Craft Your Story

Draft essential messages. Numerous clinicians do not comprehend how a lot manage they have more than the path of an interview. By preparing essential messages, you improve the likelihood that the information and facts you want to communicate will be the concentrate of the story. In addition, maintaining it to three to four speaking points guarantees it will come across in a clear, concise way. It will also ease pre-interview jitters.

Have a handful of details or statistics in thoughts. Statistics back up your answers, but do not attempt to memorize them. You could create these on note cards and maintain them with you in the course of a tv interview. It is fine, and extra all-natural, to appear down and study the statistics or information. You can also comply with-up with an e mail soon after the interview is completed.

Keep away from jargon. Maintain it uncomplicated but don’t forget the audience you are speaking to. “Doctors are authorities in extremely specialized and complicated fields,” Wimmer mentioned. “Anything they can do to enable us simplify the information and facts, illustrate it, and relate it to [individuals] will make the message extra impactful.” A litmus test in broadcast journalism when writing scripts is typically regardless of whether the viewer will have an understanding of and be interested in the material if they overheard the story although washing dishes.

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! Assessment your speaking points out loud—in the mirror, to a pal or loved ones member, or with your public affairs colleague. You could even practice with a pet or the plant in your workplace. The point is: Saying your message out loud ahead of the interview assists ease nerves and sets you up for achievement. “Imagine it is the checker at the grocery retailer you are speaking to,” Scot Singpiel, manager of with University of Utah Well being in Salt Lake City, mentioned. “Answer the [following] queries: What is the goal of your interview? What do you want the listener to consider, really feel, [or] do soon after they hear from you? If the listener could only take away 1 point from your interview, what would it be?”

Tip three: Know Your Audience

Study the reporter. An world-wide-web search of the journalists’ bio, part, and background can reveal regardless of whether they are a common assignments reporter, covering a wide variety of subjects from breaking news to options. In this case, it is particularly significant to frame your answers in the simplest terms. A specialized wellness reporter will have deeper background and insight into complicated health-related subjects. Even nevertheless, they will appreciate you beginning with the fundamentals on any difficult study.

Uncover out which show or section of the newspaper or magazine the story will be on or in. If it is a morning, midday, and afternoon show, the content material and tone are generally lighter. Prime time, nightly newscasts are tougher hitting. Front web page stories in print or on-line also have a tendency to be extra severe. Make positive your answers reflect what you have discovered about the placement of your story.

Tip four: Request Concerns Ahead of the Interview

Often ask for queries ahead of time. Your public affairs group can enable with this. Even if the reporter does not deliver the queries beforehand, have some speaking points ready. “You have restricted time to get your message across,” Cristina Flores, anchor and reporter at KUTV News in Salt Lake City, Utah, mentioned. “If you have 1 minute to say a thing on camera, you want to make certain your words and your message are clear. If you do not, you either waste the chance or leave it to other folks to interpret what you say.”

Reinforce essential messages. “During the interview, say, ‘The most significant point to don’t forget is,’ followed by your most impactful response. It tends to make issues clear for the viewer and for the journalist, who [are] typically attempting to figure out the hook or angle of the story,” Flores mentioned.

Tip five: Don’t forget, “The Medium is the Message”

This insightful phrase by Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian philosopher, is amongst the foundation of media theory and is nevertheless front and center in journalism classes across the nation. It suggests that the nature of media platforms influences how your message is perceived and received. Realizing how every single medium functions empowers you to use that expertise to your benefit.


How you appear matters. “Dress professionally a lab coat or scrubs are suitable most of the time,” Flores mentioned. “Make positive your hair is tidy. Makeup for each guys and females is suitable to stay away from a shiny complexion or to warm [an individual’s] face, as lighting can at times make the skin seem pale.” Major colors such as blue, red, and yellow appear wonderful on tv, as nicely as combinations of these colors, such as green, orange, pink, and purple. I encourage our physicians to bring their personal style to the interview. There’s only 1 you, and by bringing your character and style to the interview, you will discover higher achievement. Ask regardless of whether there will be a green or blue screen at the filming to stay away from wearing these colors at taping.

How you say it typically matters extra than what you say. “Don’t be afraid to smile.” Flores mentioned. “Even if you are discussing a severe subject, [such as] cancer, it is significant to look approachable in the course of an interview. A smile also conveys warmth and care for other folks. Visual cues and how you provide your message are [just] as significant as the words.”

Sit or stand comfortably, as you would with a colleague. Adopting a relaxed stance or posture is a trick that national tv consultants earn a lot of revenue teaching anchors and reporters how to do. It is as uncomplicated as stay away from standing or sitting stiffly, as you will seem on edge and your voice could possibly be extra strident. Get comfortable—if your physique is at ease, your thoughts will comply with. Be conscious of your physique language mainly because it can send unintentional messages. Crossing your arms across your chest sends a message that you are closed off and significantly less approachable. Leaving your arms open or putting them at your side is superior. Attempt to be as all-natural as feasible.

Strive for a friendly but knowledgeable tone. Pretend you are telling the checker at the grocery retailer about it—or even superior, 1 of your individuals. Bring your bedside manner abilities and warmth to the interview. “Think about visuals that can enable portray the complicated information,” Wimmer mentioned. “Rather than describing precisely what is taking place, can you show me what’s taking place or examine the ahead of and soon after to deliver a common thought? Even individuals can serve in this capacity to speak to and illustrate via their experiences.”

Print and On line

Maintain your speaking points in front of you. This can enable you retain your concentrate in the course of the interview. But be mindful to keep in the moment, and answer comply with-up queries as necessary.

Reiterate your message points at just about every chance. “I constantly want to make positive I represent my sources’ views and concepts accurately,” Sofia Jeremias, Innovation Lab reporter at The Salt Lake Tribune, mentioned. “Expressing a thing a handful of distinct methods assists me do that. You may possibly really feel like you are repeating your self, [but] I typically notice when reading via transcripts that the second or third time a supply repeated an thought is typically the most succinct, simple, and quotable version of their point.”

Be accessible to clarify any points as the writer is operating on the story. This is probably the most successful technique to improve the possibilities the story will be precise. It is suitable to text or e mail the reporter later—before deadline—to make positive they have all the things they require. “When I sit down to create a piece, that is when I normally comprehend what information and facts I missed in the course of the interview approach,” Jeremias mentioned. “I also like to verify back in with sources and make positive I understood them properly. It is constantly superior to comprehend exactly where I’ve gone incorrect or misunderstood a thing ahead of a piece publishes rather than possessing to challenge a correction.”


Know the format. Is it reside or recorded? If it is getting recorded, do numerous requires. Reporters do this often and are made use of to interviewees asking to start off a believed once again. It may possibly really feel awkward in the moment, but don’t forget that what goes on-air is most significant, and it is great to get it right—even if that suggests a handful of requires.

Use verbal illustrations. “[Because] radio and podcasts rely only on audio to communicate your message, use language that assists the listener see what is getting talked about,” Singpiel mentioned. “Verbal illustration procedures, such as analogies, metaphors, and similes, are potent tools to enable paint the image, and [it] tends to make the distinction amongst an interview that connects and communicates your message to the listener and 1 that does not.” For instance, when authorities speak with media about sun protection, they could possibly describe the quantity of sunscreen necessary for the typical adult as, ‘a shot glass complete of sunscreen.’ This paints a image for the listeners.

Speak with a lot of enthusiasm. “During the interview, smile,” Singpiel mentioned. “Believe it or not, in an audio-only interview, smiling tends to make a large distinction. It adds power to your voice.” Podcasts aim to take listeners on a journey. The host is like a tour guide, and bringing warmth and interest to your answers adds to the all round appeal.


The COVID-19 pandemic changed media interviews forever, and it seems that Zoom interviews are right here to keep. For the most effective final results, face a window for all-natural light or location a lamp in front of you, creating positive it is shining on your face. Overhead and fluorescent lighting only is normally unflattering. Elevate your personal computer with a box or books underneath. If your personal computer is at desk height, you will seem to be searching slightly downward, which is significantly less flattering than searching straight at the camera on the similar level.

Flores mentioned it is a popular aggravation for reporters when interviewees do not take time to verify their lighting and net camera angle to make positive it appears great ahead of joining the get in touch with. “I attempt my most effective to enable them set up, [but] I’d rather they had been prepped and prepared. I could use that time to concentrate on the topic I’m covering,” she mentioned. Keep away from background filters. These have a tendency to appear strange and unnatural. Make positive what’s behind you is neat and tidy. Adjust your Zoom settings for low light and to enhance your look, if preferred. Verify your Zoom image and name ahead of joining the get in touch with to make positive each are qualified.

Final Suggestions and Tricks

A handful of great manners go a lengthy way in any interview. It is a difficult time to be a journalist, with shrinking newsrooms and low budgets. Journalism pros are typically overworked and underpaid. By assisting make their jobs less difficult by following these strategies, you can develop into a trusted, go-to supply.

Bring a member of your public affairs group with you. Our part is to enable you just about every step of the way and to share your successes. “If only the most effective birds sang, the forest would be silent,” Henry van Dyke, an American author, educator, and clergyman, as soon as mentioned. As physicians, you have outstanding insights to share. Have courage and take the chance to share that wisdom via news stories.

Simonsen is the public affairs manager for Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah and a member of the Public Affairs and Promoting Network.