What NOT to Do in Your Media Interview: How to Avoid Being a Bad Guest


A broadcast interview opportunity, whether it be television or radio, can be a great way to share your expertise and position yourself as a knowledgeable expert. Often when these interviews are done successfully, they can turn into reoccurring opportunities, allowing you to appear on these local or national platforms monthly, weekly and sometimes even daily.

Unfortunately, many financial advisors can fall victim to common taboo interview practices. To ensure your next broadcast interview is a successful one, check out the following list of the five things not to do as a guest interview:

1.They ramble – Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and felt like you couldn’t get a word in edgewise? You may try to interject or chime in, but they speak over you and continue to dominate the conversation. It’s frustrating, annoying and leaves you with a bad impression of that person. While it often is an innocent, nervous reaction to being on-air, rambling, long-winded responses to interview questions can quickly land you on the “do not call” list for reporters and producers. Yes, it is an interview, and yes, you are the guest expert; however, an interview is NOT a one-sided conversation. Broadcast interviews, especially TV, usually have a predetermined amount of time that is allowed for the segment and hosts and producers don’t want to blow their show schedule due to your lack of conciseness.

To avoid lengthy, loquacious answers develop concise talking points ahead of your interview. Typically, your responses to most interview questions shouldn’t be any longer than 20 seconds so don’t hesitate to time yourself as you practice your talking points. For pointers on how to develop talking points, check out my past blog Talking Points 101: A Guide to Making Your Interview Cheat Sheet.

2. Their answers are overly complicated – Financial strategies and philosophies may seem fairly straightforward and easy for you understand, but it’s important to remember you are an expert in your field, and just as foreign as a media interview may seem to you, a discussion about taxes, investments or estate planning is just as overwhelming to the average consumer. It can be difficult to explain risk exposure, market volatility or tax liabilities in simple terms but during a broadcast interview, this is exactly what you have to strive to do. It’s not a client interview, where you have plenty of time to explain yourself but instead a 3-5-minute discussion where you have small windows to deliver your insight.

To avoid overly complicated answers, avoid using financial jargon and try your best to use common, everyday terms to explain your financial advice. Analogies can often help explain a financial philosophy in more common terms and avoid using too many numbers or figures. While mathematics may come easily to you, it can be difficult to convey a financial example with numbers, especially without the ability to explain it visually.

3. They’re boring – How many times have you attended a financial workshop, tuned into another financial advisor’s radio show or listened to a presentation at a training event and found it difficult to stay engaged? Your eyes might get heavy, or you may find yourself endless scrolling through Facebook on your smartphone because you simply can’t take another minute of listening to this professional drone on and on… and to think, you’re actually in this industry and find most financial related topics interesting. Now imagine how the average consumer would feel sitting through these same scenarios. Unfortunately, financial topics aren’t as naturally exciting as many other news topics, which means financial professionals have to work twice as hard to make their materials exciting and engaging for viewers and listeners.

To avoid being another boring financial expert, bring the energy and the passion to your interview. You understand just how important financial planning is and how crucial it is that audience members take your advice, so let that passion shine through in your interview. Don’t be afraid to show your personality and show the “real” you.

4. They’re high maintenance – Nobody likes a diva, especially members of the media who simply don’t have time to deal with special needs or demands. If it’s your first interview with an outlet, you should very much consider it an opportunity, not as if you’re doing them a favor. Showing up late, demanding interview questions in advance, asking for special amenities and reacting poorly to last minute changes is not a good look.

Instead, try your best to be as flexible as possible. Members of the media like to work with guests that can go with the flow. Breaking news happens and if it impacts your interview, try your hardest to roll with the punches. If you do have any requests, make sure to ask well in advance if they can be met. Asking for a bottle of water shortly before your interview while a producer is prepping for a segment is not a good idea. Ask when you first arrive or before the show even starts.

5. They correct the host/interviewer – This can be difficult for financial professionals, especially because hosts can often misunderstand or misinterpret financial advice for strategies. However, correcting a host or interviewer live on-air can be a big misstep. Members of the media pride themselves on their accuracy and credibility and to have that publicly questioned during an interview can result in you never being asked back for an interview. However, as the financial expert, you don’t want to risk your credibility either by letting a false statement slide.

If your interviewer says something that’s wrong or not in-line with your beliefs, try to let them down easy and approach your correction in a positive way. Instead of saying “no that’s wrong,” try phrases like “That’s actually a common misconception that many people believe, but in actuality….” Or “That may be true in some instances but…” or “Some financial professionals may suggest that, but I believe…”. This shows that you are in some way acknowledging that what they said may have some validity, but you don’t necessarily agree with it.

Need more tips to secure and maximize your next media opportunity? Contact AdvisorPR to discuss our turnkey public relations programs that include everything you need from interview opportunities, one-on-one media coaching and placement leveraging to maximize your exposure!

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