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3 Rules for That Quick Interview

May 13, 2013

Recently, a client called me with a panicked question: “I am headed on camera soon to talk about our district – just a general conversation about our schools. What do I say?”

It is a great interview topic and I am happy that my client reached out when they needed guidance.  Why?  What we say matters.  All too often, organizational leaders want to talk about operations: new hires, changes to curriculum and value added schools on report cards.  Frankly, this leads to a nuanced conversation that does not play well on camera. A far more effective strategy is to think and speak broadly. What do the schools in your district mean to their communities?

Here is what you need to think of when you prepare for the quick interview:

  1. What is your district about?
    • This is your anchor point, a concise sound bite that focuses every conversation, every interview.  This is not your mission statement; it is a pithy, well-researched point that exemplifies the meaning of your work and the way that is reflected in your communities.
  2. Pick a few subthemes on which to focus.
    • Again, we are looking for broader themes to resonate with a TV audience. These subthemes could, for example, talk about how well you manage finances, or what you have done to run the district through these lean financial times.  The important thing to remember is that you must be able to pivot from your subthemes back to your first point. If you get too far off track and too nuanced in educational-speak then you risk alienating the listener. Don’t do that.  Have a plan and stick with it.
  3. Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.
    • Just when you think that you have said it all…say it again! TV is a tough medium. Remember that the art of effective communications is about repeating your message.  Maybe all but 30 seconds of your interview will wind up “on the cutting room floor.”  Maybe they will use all of it and run it on cable in a repeating one-hour spot.  Regardless, your best strategy is to repeat and keep coming back to your main points.

Your success will be measured in whether people who watched it can quickly summarize your interview.

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