by Kathryn Taylor Musseau
Perfecting the sound bite
Welcome to the fourth and final article in a series created to help you discover your story and present it engagingly. This article explores perfecting the sound bite.
Your mouth, your feet.
A case of nerves when planning for an interview is not uncommon. Anticipating the questions and knowing how to respond is a skill that comes with experience. The solution to sounding succinct and confident is found in preparation. I’m sharing tools for keeping your feet out of your mouth and where they should be, planted firmly on the ground. Using them will help you to feel relaxed and ready to respond with outstanding sound bites.
You are the expert.
Knowing your subject matter well is a prerequisite for an interview. If questions go outside your knowledge base, it’s okay to say you aren’t versed on that topic. This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to get in over your head. Review your information well before an interview and again prior to the engagement. You may believe you’re familiar with the topic; it’s your company, after all. But being familiar with a subject and expressing things well are two different skills. Do your homework, even when you are the subject. Be the expert.
Ask for a pre-interview.
Many programs provide a pre-interview discussion. If they do, take it, and if they don’t, request it. Pre-interviews provide insight into the tone and format of a program, as does listening to previous guest interviews. Keep in mind that hosts want to present well. Your preparation and professionalism allow them to shine. They’ll remember your exceptional performance and welcome you back again. They may also refer you to industry colleagues.
Never save the best for last.
Always ask the length of the interview. If you have only five minutes, every word counts. If you have fifteen minutes, you will want more content to share. Then, plan your comments like a professional. Clarify the top three things you wish to express and keep them fresh in your mind. Make your most salient points first and follow with background detail. If an interview is edited, a busy tech will not scan for your best content.
Furthermore, audiences have short attention spans. Never ever save the best for last. Leave that for the movies.
Always go live when given the option.
Many people think that pre-recorded interviews are less stressful. Mistakes can be edited, right? Wrong. Don’t depend on technology to make you sound good when you have all the preparation tools. The power of live unedited content is its immediacy. It goes directly from your mouth to your audience’s ears. What a great way to land your message. Don’t shy away from the chance to “go live.”
Tell your story, regardless of what’s asked.
I was given one very good piece of advice early in my career: It doesn’t matter what they ask, it only matters what you say. This is especially important in sensitive or confrontational interviews, where it’s easy to become defensive. In one word, don’t. Create your ideal set of questions and answers in advance. Practise those answers until you sound confident and informed, but don’t memorize them.
Kathryn Taylor Musseau is the owner of Kathryn Taylor Media. Her show Let’s Get Writing runs live on Facebook at Kathryn Taylor Media and simulcasts on YouTube and Linkedin each week, featuring writers in all genres and publishers. Her episodes and tips are available on her YouTube channel Kathryn Taylor TV. Her Let’s Get Writing podcast is available on your favourite platforms for those who prefer to listen. She also publishes a weekly newsletter, Love Notes. You can subscribe on her website. Her first novel, Misty’s Misadventures, is available at Amazon Kindle Store, Kobo Store, Google Play, Nook Store, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble and FriesenPress Bookstore.