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1. Speak clearly
Ever say something you wish you could take back? When you’re in the limelight, your words are magnified even more. Any slip of the tongue can get you in trouble and hurt not only your own reputation, but the reputation of your brand or organization as well. And it’s not just saying something politically incorrect or taboo that can get you in trouble. You can also get a negative image by speaking poorly.
In this day and age, if you sound like an idiot in an interview, it’s instantly all over social media—your inarticulateness in all its glory. If you have the tendency to stammer or use filler words (um, uh, so, like, hmmm, etc.), you need to learn to do one thing. Pause.
Yes, it’s that simple. You don’t need to be uttering sound the entire time during an interview. A pause can be purposeful, strategic and helpful and will keep you from spitting out words that have no purpose.
2. Repeat the question
A common strategy used in many interview situations to buy time and clarify meaning is repeating the question. By paraphrasing the question back to the reporter, you give yourself time to think about your response, take a breath and answer intelligently. You also make sure the question you’re responding to is the one that’s being asked.
3. Have a conversation
An interview is a conversation, plain and simple, but so many people don’t think of it that way. The reporter may ask you a question to get it started, but you have the power to change the course of the interview through your answers. Don’t think of it as a simple Q&A session. Think of it as an opportunity to share some of yourself, get to know the reporter and find a good conversational rhythm. If you approach each reporter with the attitude of, “Hey, let’s have a conversation about [insert topic of interview],” instead of, “I have to answer a few questions about this,” you’ll see great results.
Related: 6 Strategies for Being a Better Listener
4. Tell a story
As an adult, I love listening to people tell stories about why they do what they do and how they got to where they are in life. When I listen to these stories, I find ways to connect and identify with the storyteller.
Audiences are drawn to people with whom they can identify. If your story has something in common with a member of your audience and you share it, you’ve made a connection. If you don’t share your story, you miss out on an opportunity.
5. Thank your employees/customers/supporters
These people are already on your side, but if you want to get in good with your support base, always make it a point to thank them in your interviews. Plus, it makes you appear gracious, kind and appreciative.
If a client did something really nice for you or got killer results from using your product or service and shared that with you, acknowledge that story and thank that client in your interview. Then share that interview on social media, tagging the client and/or featuring that client in a blog post that links to the interview. The audience will love hearing a real-world example, and that client will remember you forever. Those stories make for easy sound bites that reporters can run over and over again and that media outlets can put on websites and social media channels. Doing a little good can go a long way.
6. Be helpful
As the interview reaches its end, ask: “Is there anything else I can talk about or answer that will help with your story?” Doing this during a live interview while the camera is rolling probably isn’t the best strategy. But as you’re shaking hands to part ways, ask.
If a reporter knows you’re willing to work with her, you’re more likely to get requested for interviews in the future. And, who knows, you might get an additional feature right on the spot!
7. Follow through
If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you say you’ll give an interview and then don’t, or try to rush through it, you’re going to be viewed as someone who doesn’t keep her promises. And you don’t want to move the media out of your corner. Your business can’t afford it.
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8. Reciprocity: share the love
If a reporter does a special story about you, puts it out via social media, and “tags” or “tweets” you in any way, share it with your followers and fans. This simple act will endear you to reporters, as they realize you’re conscious of what’s put out about you in the media and you’re happy to share their work.
Jill Schiefelbein is a former professor, professional speaker and business communication expert. A version of this article originally appeared on Entrepreneur. Copyright © 2017 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.