“Is one of the difficulties entrepreneurs face talking about themselves? When you work for an organisation you can hide behind corporate messaging, but when you are your business then any publicity is ultimately about you, and that is a lot less comfortable.”
Thanks again to one of those in the Roll of Honour for bringing yet another great question.
I don’t feel this. And lots of my clients don’t either. Did I once, way back? Probably yes. My memory is a bit dim on this one, but I know I would be more in the reluctant camp generally speaking. Nerves about this when you start out are normal, good and healthy.
Loads of people do feel discomfort, especially at the beginning.
Here’s how I think of it.
Obviously, show-offs and certain Starry* personality types love this from the get-go; being the centre of attention, talking about themselves, and having the spotlight on them. Let’s assume they don’t need our help today.
For the rest of us, there are lots of ways to find comfort in being in the spotlight, or at least in that sort of spotlight, the one where you are interviewed, the one where you talk about yourself and your projects and your business, having first taken care to showcase your expertise and offer something of value to your listener or reader or watcher.
Any tips I would give a client are as follows, in no particular order of importance.
Practice makes perfect. You will get better and more comfortable with this in time. No-one is good at anything from Day One, and we cannot wait until we are excellent because we cannot get to that place of comfort without first having a few plucky goes. I think both the interviewer and the listener are sympathetic to newbie nervousness because it is only natural, and vulnerability is often very attractive where overconfidence is not. I already know you are good enough for this and in your heart of hearts, so do you.
Until then, remember that you don’t have to tell anyone anything you don’t want them to know. You don’t have to get naked, figuratively speaking, unless you want to. So work out what you want to reveal, if anything, and what not. If a question makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t answer it. Do what the politicians do and answer the question you wish they’d asked instead. Interviewers are used to that and will respond accordingly, or not even notice. Only Jeremy Paxman will bring you back and grill you, over and over, until you do. But he’s not interviewing you, is he? They are not all Rottweilers, thankfully.
Mostly an interviewer will send questions in advance. If they offer that, accept it. If they don’t, ask if they can/will. Obviously, this doesn’t necessarily happen if the interview is happening at very short notice because it is topical today, or newsworthy immediately. But that probably doesn’t happen with our business, or not until we announce to the media that we are up for that. I am not. I cannot and will not dump my clients for the convenience of the media. I know lots of people who do. The choice is always ours, as with anything. Just because people ask, it doesn’t mean we have to accept though you did, I know, for the good of your volunteer project. Brave! Good on you.
You can always ask what the interviewer intends to cover. Be prepared. Dib. Dib. Dib.
There’s no such thing as bad publicity. I know this is a cliche, but what I observe is that this is truer today than it has ever been. Let me explain. I’ve watched TV programmes about business people that I thought made them look absolutely loathsome. But others noticed only that they were famous because they were on the telly, and these days (sorry) being famous because you are on the telly = A Good Thing in our world (not to me it isn’t, by the way), and it is almost irrelevant what you said or how you behaved or how you came across. And since you are not loathsome, you will do better than those publicity-hungry types I felt so antipathetic towards. We don’t all like or dislike the same qualities in another human being; that’s worth remembering.
Some people will see or hear you and connect with you. Others won’t. And they won’t notice or care and you won’t make any dent on their awareness, so again you can’t get it wrong because those in the first camp will become aware of you in only a good way.
Preparation is key. You know this already because you are a pro. Even if you don’t use the vast majority of your prep, no matter. Being well prepared makes you feel more confident in the moment.
My own personal choice is not to accept invitations to be on TV or any visual medium. But I am always happy to give interviews in the written and spoken word or face to face, and I am often amazed when I listen to myself later, as I pretty much always do, sometimes more than once, to hear my own wisdom coming through. I promise you I think “Who is that brilliant woman?” and then I realise it’s me. I think this will be exactly what you are surprised and delighted to discover about yourself. Once you become more aware of your own expertise, this just becomes easier and easier to share.
Only accept invitations from your favourite types of media, where comfort is more likely.
Talk about your work, rather than yourself, always remembering that people are fascinated by your human story too so any interviewer worth their salt is likely to want to draw you on that at least a little, or perhaps as a warm-up to the meat of the discussion.
Most of my clients who go through this process report back afterwards that they loved it, they got a buzz from it, they felt “high” when it ended (adrenaline), it was surprisingly easy, they got good feedback from it, they got good publicity from it and, ultimately, they got clients from it. Keep your eyes on the prize.
If in doubt, don’t. Find another way to get publicity for your business which you do relish. Press releases perhaps? What else I wonder? Let’s get our heads together on that.
Today’s media sound bites are wrapping tomorrow’s chips. Sorry to mix my metaphors but I know you know what I mean. There’s so much media noise in the world, almost no-one will notice. Sorry, but it’s true. And once you HAVE cracked this, you’ll be asking me how you can get more and better publicity. Trust me, I know that’s true. It happens all the time, and the transition from terrified reluctant newbie to would-be media tart is often astonishingly fast.
It’ll be over in the blink of an eye and you’ll wish it had lasted longer. Ha!
Always listen to it back so you can improve if there’s room for any. Then forget it. It’s gone out on the airwaves now, it’s gone, there’s nothing you can do about it now. See if you can get a link to the recording for use in your own publicity materials, but only if it’s any good! Sometimes you will be allowed to use the media logo on your website – as featured on the BBC or in Marie Claire, or whatever. That can be useful cred.
Always ask that they link to your website or wherever the listener can find out more about you/whatever you are promoting. The media who often think you will do this because they ask and without payment, for the honour of it (LOL) and are notoriously slack about this. Agree it in advance. Pull them up on it if they fail. They really need to get better at this, you aren’t doing it for the good of your health, it’s a two-way deal. You help them get content for their show, they help you get publicity for your biz.
Remember to ask yourself “what’s in it for me?” If there’s nothing in it for you, just say no. This last tip is discretionary.
Visualisation might help you. “See” yourself on stage/TV being brilliant. Ditto EFT and/or NLP and/or hypnosis, any of which can help you to see yourself stepping into the shoes of someone who you admire precisely because they are as confident as you would like to be in interview situations, talking about themselves and their work. There’s always someone to model who has an admirable way of doing whatever you want to be doing effortlessly and elegantly too.