As part of my book promotion tour, my publisher sent me to media training with Clarity Media Group. I thought the media trainer would talk with me about being on television — how to sit, where to put my hands, what to wear. Instead, he focused on how to not be a loose cannon.
I know this about myself — that I have a sub-standard edit button. It is not uncommon that our biggest strength is also our biggest weakness. In my case, I’m good at saying what I really think, but in some situations I need to be better at saying the second thing that comes to mind instead of the first.
A good example of this problem is my sex analogies. I don’t know why, but sex seems like an appropriate analogy for almost every point I’ve wanted to make, ever. My editor at Business 2.0 told me early on that I need to stop writing references to sex in my column, and when I didn’t, he just deleted them without asking me.
Five years later, when I had not gotten much better about it, Marci Alboher, a woman I trust, told me I should stop talking about sex because I risk offending people. Actually, she specified a sex act. Which I reference a lot, but need to stop referencing, and will not say here to prove that I am not too old a dog to learn new tricks.
So, anyway, the media trainer spent a lot of time teaching me how to edit myself better as I’m talking out loud.
Luckily, most of his advice was about preparing beforehand. Knowing what answer you’re going to give way before you have to field a question. This is very similar to advice I have given about getting a job, so you should pay attention whether you are being interviewed by the press or by a potential employer. Here’s a quote from the material my media trainer gave me.
“Don’t try to prepare for every possible question that could arise. Determine the 6-8 topics that are likely to come up during your interview and then:
a. Hone a key message for each topic.
b. Identify anecdotes you can tell that illustrate each message.
c. Prepare specific examples or compelling data to prove your point.
d. Think of clever analogies if appropriate.
Think of these interviews as the equivalent of a good movie trailer, in which your quest is to independently drive to the very best scenes, anecdotes and newsworthy revelations in the book.”
Here’s an example of me putting all that training into action: Peter Clayton interviewed me for Total Picture Radio. He is a total pro. I am not quite there. You will notice that after all that training, I still made a reference to sex.