Don’t ever bluff. If you don’t know the answer to a question, be honest and say so. Then offer to get back to the reporter later with the answer or suggest someone else in your company or organization they might call. Better yet, offer to ask that person to call the reporter.
Alcohol will not relax you, in fact it dulls the edge you need to carry on a good interview. Too much coffee gives you the jitters, which you’re likely to feel as stage fright. Even in small amounts, alcohol, coffee and tea have an astringent effect on your mouth tissue. A dry mouth is a handicap and a distraction that you don’t want to experience.
Expand on your three-sentence-or-less message. Explain a little of the background on your story. Use colorful words and examples. Think in terms of the news “hook.” Why should the reporter want to cover your story? Your message is a product and you have to sell it to the reporter if you want to get coverage.
Always make sure your facts are correct. Mistakes can be damaging, both with the story outcome and to your credibility. When you can, cite statistics, studies or outside experts who support your position. These will all increase your credibility, but make sure they’re accurate. You want to be viewed as a reliable source in the future.
Define your audience. Do you want to reach the general public or a smaller segment like retired people, parents, business owners, an ethnic community, or young people? The audience you’re trying to reach will determine which news outlets you should approach. It will also determine which individual reporters you should contact.
If it’s appropriate to thank the host organization or the program organizer, by all means do so, particularly if you’d like to be invited back. An e-mail message the next day is OK, but a hand written thank-you note has more impact. You might also ask that person how they felt the presentation went.
If possible, ask someone who was there for a critique. He or she may view the presentation differently than you do. What was it like from the audience perspective? Was your message clear and concise? Were there other things that should have been addressed?
If you have access to a means of recording your speech, record it and listen critically to the playback. Are you using good vocal dynamics? Are you speaking too slowly or too fast? Are the pauses in the right places?
Even if there’s no formal Q&A following your presentation, you should always be prepared for questions that may arise. You might need to answer some clarifying questions as you go along. If you’ve done your homework and know your subject, you should be able to predict the likely questions.
What is the purpose of your speech? Do you want to inform or persuade? What message do you want to impart? Try to summarize your central message in one to three sentences. If you can’t do that, you need to further refine the message. Keep it concise and to-the-point.