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Five tips for great interviews, then two more

February 11, 2013

Your goal is to outperform Clint Eastwood’s chair.

Some of the best blog posts in the world are someone else’s posts. (Insert snarky joke here about this blog. It’s okay, I’m all right with it.)

Recently, poet and musician Chris Robley wrote a blog post for Bookbaby.com that gives authors five tips for a delivering compelling interviews. For new authors, an interview about their work is a daunting task. And for published authors, the interviews tend to come in groups, typically around the time of your book release. Given that many authors are introverts by nature, the tips are most welcome.

At a high level, here they are (f0r more detail, click through the link; it’s worth your time):

  1. Embrace the fact that it’s all about you.
  2. Practice your soundbites and stories ahead of time.
  3. Avoid one word answers–even to yes or no questions.
  4. Don’t be long-winded.
  5. Bring it back around to you.

The biggest gem, though, comes immediately after the list of tips–and amplifies tip number 2: Practice, practice, practice. It feels dopey at first, talking to yourself, but the only way to feel comfortable doing something uncomfortable is to do it, then do it again, then do it again. And then keep doing it until you feel comfortable. You can practice in the shower, while you’re shaving, even in the car on the way to work or the store. (If you feel dopey talking to yourself in the car, just stick a blue-tooth device in your ear. Everyone will think you’re on the phone.)

Do your best to anticipate the questions, then do your best to answer them. Unless you’re a guest on 60 Minutes, the purpose of the interview is to talk about you and your craft. It’s not to trip you up. The interviewer is probably on your side and will benefit if you do well.

And that’s a lovely segue to the next point–you’re there to help the interviewer do his or her job. Regardless of the type of interview–radio, television, internet, even a written interview. They have airtime or space to fill and they’re working with you to fill it. You’re on the same team, with slightly different goals. But neither of your goals is antagonistic to the others’.

The interviewer wants you relaxed and at your best. A good interviewer will set you at ease and help you do your best interview. You have to bring the practice to know what you want to say and how you want to say it.

With the five tips from the other blog and two from this one, you should be able to at least make yourself a little less uncomfortable in the interview chair. You might even enjoy it.

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3 Comments
  1. Jack Owen permalink
    February 11, 2013 9:00 am

    Interview techniques are the least taught or addressed areas in a writer’s prep list.
    I would add “Know Your Foe” – the interviewer – before you go.
    Talk-radio “gotcha” jocks and soap-sud-seller show-biz TV daytime hosts are highly motivated by creating incidents which will get THEM 15-minutes of fame, and build up THEIR audience.
    Its to late to learn on the job when you’re sitting in front of an open mike or couched before a live audience – and a bazillion unseen views – to uhmmnn and errr.
    Happened to me on the Joan Rivers Show a decade ago. It is NOT a video which gets a lot of play in my house!

    • millie permalink
      February 15, 2013 6:27 pm

      Having just “enjoyed” my first radio interview, I would add one thing. I found it useful to make up a list of questions I’m asked when doing Author Visits or Book Signings and sending that list to the radio station interviewer ahead of time. He was delighted to have them and then added a few of his own. My supposed 3-4 minute interview stretched to almost 15 minutes!!!!

  2. February 16, 2013 7:39 am

    Great idea, Millie. I’m curious, though, as to how you got the interview.

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