If you get the opportunity to do a media interview, it's really worth taking advantage of it. It might be something as simple as being invited to appear on a podcast show as a guest, right through to appearing on national television.

What stops a lot of people from taking advantage of media opportunities is they don't know what to do and there is a fear factor of looking silly if you get it wrong. But if you avoid these 9 common media interview mistakes, I'm pretty certain you will be just fine.

1. Too much waffle

Waffling refers to rambling on without purpose, and it usually happens when you’re nervous or unprepared.  To stay on track, have some notes jotted down. Also, keep asking yourself “what is my main point?” and how can I keep bringing it back into the conversation. Be very clear about what you want to say before the interview and then stay on track. Being prepared is the key. 

2. You’re not being yourself

If you try to impress the interviewer by being someone you’re not, it’s uncomfortably obvious. Just take a deep breath, relax, and have an authentic conversation. When you’re the real you, you’ll make a real connection. Remember you're simply having a conversation with another person, don't overthink it.

3. You’re being overly serious  

If, like me, you have a playful personality, then let this shine through and have some fun. Interviews don’t have to be super serious unless it’s a serious topic. The more fun I have the more relaxed I feel and the better the interview goes.

4. You promote your business too much

Unless requested, journalists don’t want advertisements in answers to their questions, and neither does the audience. But, you can still gently promote yourself by subtly weaving an example into your answer.

The wrong approach - “I’m a keynote speaker.”

The right approach - “You know, interestingly enough, the last time I was talking at a conference, this issue was raised…”.

5. You’re unprepared

If you’re unprepared you’re more likely to be nervous and come across as unprofessional. Always be as prepared as possible. What does this mean? Have your facts and figures written down if need be. Write down the name of the person who is interviewing you. Do your own research on the person and company interviewing you, make sure you know who they are and what they do. This is very important.

6. You don’t answer the question

Another common mistake is that people don’t really answer the question because they’re not really listening. Make a point of answering the question directly. Don’t answer like a politician! Use the name of the person interviewing you - this makes you look really relaxed and professional. A simple tip that is a game changer.
7. You lack conviction

If you stand for something, your sense of conviction makes the interview more engaging and interesting.

For example, I could say, “I strongly believe that business owners need to take advantage of media opportunities in order to boost their profile and become persons of authority in their industry.” Conviction makes for a compelling interview.
8. You sound distracted

If you’re distracted, it’s noticeable, and your audience will switch off too. Stay focused and you’ll stay engaging.

9. Inappropriate answer length

When you’re being interviewed, maintain a natural conversational flow so that your answers aren’t too long or too short. Think of it this way, if you were having a coffee with a friend, would you answer with clipped one-word answers or long Shakespearean monologues? Unlikely, so avoid this in an interview as well.

It’s normal to make mistakes especially when you’re first starting out, but the more interviews you do, the better you’ll become.  Go for it!