A touch of media training is just the thing to prepare you for your time in the spotlight. “No matter how much you know about your topic, preparing for your media interview is critical if you want to sound knowledgeable, quotable, and credible,” says Jennifer Wezensky, president of JW Public Relations (www.jwprtoolkits.com), a Michigan-based boutique PR firm specializing in helping small businesses garner positive media coverage. Here are Wezensky’s top 10 media interview tips so you can sound smart when a member of the media comes calling:

1. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Prepare your key points ahead of time so you can get across your most important messages regardless of the questions asked. Likewise, make sure you know the time, setting, and focus of the interview. 

2. Develop three key messages. Write your key messages down and practice them, so they’re easily delivered during the interview. 

3. Tell the truth. Be honest. If you don’t know the answer to a question, simply say so and promise to follow up with the answer. 

4. Keep it simple. Your answers should be short, clear, and easy to follow. 

5. Smile. Whether you offer it in person or over the phone, a simple smile conveys confidence and creates a positive feeling for the story. 

6. Be confident. You’re the expert. 

7. Avoid jargon. Delete confusing acronyms and corporate-speak from your vocabulary and use easy-to-understand language. 

8. All comments are on the record. Avoid awkward, dangerous “off-the-record” remarks. Assume that anything you say will be used. 

9. Build bridges from tough questions back to your key points. Continue to deliver your message throughout the interview. 

10. Thank the interviewer for his or her time and follow up on any additional items as promised. Do not ask to see the story before it runs. Do offer to clarify anything, and make yourself available for follow-up questions.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.