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How to speak to a journalist

3 Mins

What you say and how you say it carries weight when you speak to a journalist. Read our advice to ensure you represent both yourself and your company in a positive light when speaking to a journalist.

1. Be prepared

Prepare yourself before you speak to a journalist. Research your interviewer. Read previous articles by the journalist to familiarise yourself with their style and point of view. Clarify your message and stay on-story. Too much detail will engulf your listener and too little will make them think you aren’t sure about what you’re saying. Stick to the “rule of three” – give your listener no more than three key points. Any more than this becomes overwhelming and your listener will get confused.

2. Demonstrate confidence

If you are standing when you speak to a journalist, place your hands by your sides. You can also put them in the “power position”, with your hands in front of your waist and your fingers lightly touching. Distribute your weight evenly, providing you with a firm foundation. If you are sitting, place your weight evenly onto your buttocks, put the small of your back into the back of your chair, raise your chest, hold your head level or slightly elevated. Whatever you do, avoid fidgeting.

3. Maintain eye contact

Look the journalist in the eye. Try to maintain eye contact 45-65 per cent of the time when you speak to a journalist: more than this and you may seem confrontational; less than this and you may look like you are uncomfortable, unsure, or unconnected.

4. Combat nerves

If you’re feeling nervous, breathe from your core and give yourself positive messages. Before you speak to a journalist, envision the way you want to be perceived and take yourself back to a time when you presented yourself in a way that made you proud. By thinking about what you did and how you felt, you can recreate the positive sensation. If, during the interview, you find yourself coming across nervously, slow down, take a breath and remind yourself how good you are.

5. Remember final impression

When the interview comes to an end, finish with a smile, a thank you and a firm handshake.  If you are the person leaving the room, turn to face the interviewer just as you are about to exit; that way their final vision of you is of your calm, confident face.

Elizabeth Kuhnke is managing director and founder of Kuhnke Communication, Her international bestselling book ‘Body Language for Dummies’ is available in seven languages and is the brand’s number-two bestseller in the UK.

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