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Category: Brand · 6 min read

How to Look and Sound Like a Thought Leader in Media Interviews

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on August 23, 2018

author profile photo

on August 23, 2018

Insurance Thought Leader Giving Presentation

There’s normally someone in every community the news media turns to when they need to explain a complicated topic, or the reporters interview when they need a specific quote. These media personalities quickly become thought leaders in the minds of prospective customers, because they’re presented to the public as reliable sources of information.

How do you become your community’s resource for financial matters? Well, if you’d like to try to be a media darling, here’s a blueprint for how to lay the groundwork, and how to excel once you’re set with a reporter.


Be Prepared for the Specific Interview at Hand

Financial professionals won’t likely be interviewed on the spot—you’ll have time to prepare. So, be sure to discuss the reasons and goals the media outlet has for interviewing you. Are they looking for a professional opinion on a breaking story or recent news item? If so, be sure to read up on the story at hand and know the various angles a reporter might take to learn more about the situation.

For example, if a national news story breaks about changes to Social Security and a television station wishes to interview you about the importance of retirement savings, make sure you fully understand the program changes and how it might impact those planning for retirement and those who have already retired.


Explain Your Goal to the Reporter, Too

The reporter should prepare you to be interviewed, but you need to prepare them, as well. Often times, a preliminary meeting or phone call is used to go over what will be covered. Make sure you come ready to tell the reporter what you hope to get out of the piece.

Using our Social Security example, you might explain that you want to talk specifically about the relative security of purchasing fixed index annuities and how annuities fit into a well-rounded retirement plan. You may also ask them to mention your company name or website for people to contact you if they have further questions. The media outlet may only use this information in minimal ways—for instance, as a graphic across the bottom of the screen while you talk to the reporter—but you won’t get that free advertisement placement if you don’t ask.


Prepare Short, To-The-Point Answers for Broadcast Interviews

Media interview training will teach you that the world of television and radio interviews is very different than those conducted by newspaper, magazine or even online reporters. You may have heard the term “sound byte” used in the context of news reporting. That refers to short clips of sound–usually between 10 and 30 seconds–from an interview subject to give context to the overall report.

While live broadcast and interview-style recorded segments can offer you longer periods of time to get your point across, the audience is used to short, concise answers on television and radio. So, prepare to answer questions with very short, direct answers that clearly explain the point you’re making, and don’t drone on and on. If you go much past 30 to 45 seconds, the reporter is likely to cut you off, which doesn’t convey a strong command of the subject matter or let you explain everything. 


Explain It to a Fifth Grader

The majority of the audience that sees a financial professional interviewed in the media has little to no understanding of insurance, annuities, retirement vehicles, financial planning or stock markets. Thus, they aren’t going to know what you’re talking about if you use jargon and industry terms like “S&P.”

Over-complicated explanations of your audience’s financial matters can leave them confused, worried, or even angry.

You should sound knowledgeable, but handle the interview as if you’re responding to a fifth grader. Over-complicated explanations of your audience’s financial matters can leave them confused, worried, or even angry. Instead, keep it simple, factual, and clear, and leave them feeling informed.


Notice Cameras and Microphones, but Don’t Look at Them

Another important media interview training lesson is to understand where and how the cameras and microphones are being used. That way, you’re aware of how loud and clear you need to speak in the right direction to be heard, and you know the audience’s physical point of view.

However, knowing where the audience is and not looking at them is tricky. More often than not, you shouldn’t look directly at or into the camera that’s recording your interview. Instead, look at the reporter asking the questions, or off to the right or left of a camera interviewing you up close (camera men will sometimes hold their hand beside the camera for you to focus on if there isn’t a reporter present).

If you are in a television studio and the host starts off looking into the camera, or looks to the camera to explain the story at hand, you are then welcome to look at the camera, acknowledging the audience’s presence. However, when the reporter turns to you to ask a question, be sure to look at them for your answer.

Looking directly into the camera during an interview is off-putting to the audience and, again, doesn’t convey the notion that you are a thought leader.


Relax and Have Fun

Perhaps the most important reminder is to relax and have fun. Be sure to smile and express your enthusiasm and energy for the topic. Be ready for some informal back-and-forth with the reporter if they thank you for coming or ask how you are.

The more personable and friendly you appear on camera, the more approachable you’ll come across to the audience.

And be sure to include a “thanks for having me” at the end when the reporter thanks you for being a part of the show. Niceties go a long way in a broadcast interview.

The more personable and friendly you appear on camera, the more approachable you’ll come across to the audience.

Learn More About Media Interview Training

For more tips to improve your approach to build your brand in the financial services space, see what Brokers International has to offer in our Brand Builder product suite, or contact us to speak to our experienced staff today.


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Written By

Mark Williams

President and CEO

Mark Williams is the President/CEO of Brokers International. Over his more than 25 years of financial services experience, Mark has been both a producing independent agent in the field and a home office leader consulting to agencies and field marketing organizations. Currently, Mark is focused on the future of the insurance industry, from the disruptions of InsurTech and robo-advisors to the changing demographics and needs of customers. He also is an avid mentor, helping financial professionals navigate the industry.

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