Bernard O'Riordan, Media Trainer
If you are planning to talk to a reporter on the telephone, I have one simple piece of advice for you: your chair is your enemy.
Believe it or not, people who sit down while doing a telephone interview often sound a lot less interesting and a lot less convincing than those who stand up and casually move around.
It’s bad enough that we lose a lot of expressiveness on the telephone because the person on the other end can’t see our facial expressions or hand gestures.
But it gets even worse when we sit down because it almost completely stops the electrical activity in the feet, leg muscles and other parts of the body, making it even harder to sound enthusiastic and energetic.
Standing makes it easier to breathe, which produces more oxygen, greater blood flow and it can actually improve your response time.
And that’s crucial in a media interview when you need to sound enthusiastic, convincing and credible.
I suppose it gives new meaning to the term “thinking on your feet”, but it really is much easier to stay on message and think while you are on your feet than it is slumped over a desk or lurching in a chair.
Standing, along with gesturing, is a good idea because your voice will project more authority and key words will have more emphasis. And that’s important because your vocal qualities determine what someone thinks of you when they talk to you on the telephone.
By ditching the office chair, you will be free to move around to calm your nerves. But be careful not to burn a hole in the carpet as you pace; you don’t want to sound breathless, particularly if it's a radio interview.
You want to do everything you can to enhance your next telephone interview with a reporter, so here are a few more simple tips to keep in mind.
Use a landline
There’s nothing worse than trying to interview someone on a mobile phone, particularly when the reception is poor, there’s a lot of background noise or the call drops out. Always try to use a landline in a room where you won’t be distracted;
Avoid speaker phones
It was my pet hate as a reporter and I often refused to interview people who used speaker phones. It’s annoying when more than one person starts talking because the line fades out and the reporter can’t keep check of who says what. It also increases your chances of being misquoted. (PR people often like to listen in on the call, but they should have more faith in the person being interviewed than to insist on a speaker phone interview.);
No really! It might sound silly, but it’s important to smile while you speak. Smiling makes you sound and feel happier and more relaxed;
Keep your arms loose and gesture naturally. This will help you appear calm and confident. Your energy will cut across the phone line;
Refer to notes
It’s fine to have a few key points written down that you occasionally glance at, but try not to sound like you’re reading from a script.