Viviane Lalande, a renowned science communicator, has recently produced a series of videos for scientists entitled “Science and Media”. To what end? To give tips and tricks to prepare scientists to communicate with the media. We add some points at the end of the post. We share a few extra points at the end of the post.

Video: How to prepare for an interview with journalists?

One video deals specifically with the theme of preparing for a media interview. In addition to Viviane Lalande, the speakers in the video are   Marie-Ève Carignan (Université de Sherbrooke), Thomas Gervais (Polytechnique), Laurent Turcot (Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières) and Karine Prémont (Université de Sherbrooke). The video emphasizes the importance of :

  • Be prepared. Avoid accepting an interview without prior preparation.
  • Ask questions. It is important to have information about the parameters of the interview. For example, ask: What is expected? How much time will you have? Is the interview pre-recorded or live? Will I be alone or will there be another guest who will react to what I say?
  • Know your audience and the type of media. You need to know: who the interview is for, who will listen to the interview and for what type of media (TV, radio, print/web).
  • Prepare your message. Three essential questions are: What do I want to say? To whom do I want to say it? How do I want to say it?
  • Write down key points. Prepare a short list of key points on a small sheet of paper (to limit the space available). Ask yourself: what is the key message you want people to remember?
  • Rehearse your script. Practice your list of key points several times, without memorizing it. Memorizing can lead to a lack of fluidity in the discussion and irrelevant answers.
  • Do not try to guide the interview. The direction of the interview is up to the reporter, not the interviewee. There is no need to try to steer the direction of the interview or to ask certain questions.
  • Have the latest information. If applicable, take a moment before the interview to catch up on the latest events related to the topic so that you are not caught off guard.  

Two tips and a hint

Here are two extra recommendations:

  • Know your own limits. If you are ever uncomfortable answering a question posed by the facilitator, don’t be afraid to say so because you either don’t have a good knowledge of the subject or you are not an expert in the field.
  • Don’t be intimidated. Often, in a live situation, people tend to want to answer at all costs. The same is true if you don’t understand the question. Ask the host to rephrase: “I’m not sure I understood your question. Can you repeat it, please?”

We are ending with a tip for people who are anxious before an interview (especially radio, live by phone):

  • Do the interview standing up, not sitting down. Your speech will be better and it will give you a certain confidence in front of the person on the other end of the line.

The project Sciences et Médias is an initiative by Polytechnique Montréal, financed by NSERC, the FRQand Scigal, withAcfas’ssupport.

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