Roger C. Parker, Guest Author
Preparing for your first interview as a published, or self-published, author is an important step in promoting your book and building your personal brand. It’s an event worth preparing for.
When you prepare for your first interview, you’re also making an investment in your long-term personal branding success. As your online visibility and your personal brand grows, it’s likely that you’ll be contacted for more and more interviews.
Preparation is the key to successful interviews; preparation reduces stress and puts you in charge, making it easy to sell your book and communicate your personal branding message.
It’s never too early to begin preparing to be interviewed by the media, experts in your field, your peers, or potential employers.
Preparing for interviews
There are two ways to prepare for interviews—whether they’re scheduled a long time in advance, or you’re contacted at the last minute:
1. Prepare the basic facts. Start by preparing answers for the background questions most likely to be asked. These “softball” questions are often formalities, asked to establish your credentials, create rapport with the interviewer, and set the stage for the more important questions to follow. By anticipating these questions, and being comfortable responding to them, you can get through them faster, increasing the time you can spend on the more important questions to follow.
2. Opinions, perspectives, and promoting your book. Next, plan for the types of opinion and perspective questions the interviewer is likely to ask you. Knowing that that “hardball” questions are likely to follow the set of questions helps you prepare responses that can be used as opportunities to promote your book and your personal brand.
Getting the easy questions out of the way
Start by making a list of the questions you would ask if you were interviewing yourself, and preparing answers that reinforce the key characteristics of your personal brand.
Prepare answers that give you an opportunity to reference your book and relate to your personal brand and the key message, or position, you want callers to remember after the interview.
Don’t attempt to “script,” or memorize, your responses to the basic questions about your education, interests, and employment (or self-employment), history.
Instead, prepare a mind map or fact sheet listing the background questions you’re likely to be asked, along with the key ideas and connections you want to make between your background, your book, and your personal brand. Use a large type size so you can glance at it during the interview.
Never “read” your answers! Instead, review your mind map of fact sheet before the interview, and have it handy for a quick glance during the interview.
I find it’s a good idea to avoid using full sentences when organizing my ideas before an interview. Instead, just jot down the main ideas and phrases you want to include in your answers. Sentences take too much space. They also encourage you to read your responses, rather than responding in a confident and enthusiastic tone.
By the way, if you’re worried about not being able to recall important ideas, try copying your list of anticipated questions and responses in longhand. Writing ideas out by hand often improves enhances you ability to recall the key ideas at a later date.
Anticipating unexpected questions
The best way you can be avoid being surprised by unexpected questions during your interview is to constantly monitor the news and trends effecting your corner of the world, i.e., those who are interested in the area where you’re building your brand. This helps you prepare appropriate responses ahead of time.
As you prepare for your interview, ask yourself questions like:
• What are the latest changes, challenges, and trends? What’s happening in my field? What are the implications of these changes? What types of businesses and associations are most effected? What are the political, economic, or social changes you recommend your clients and prospects monitor? Which of these challenges and trends are most important, and what do you recommend your clients and prospects do? How are you preparing to make changes in the way you do business?
• What are the positive changes are taking place in your field? What does the latest research indicate? What progress, or research, shows the most promise? How can others in your field apply and leverage their changes to their businesses and lives?
• How are you helping others in your field? As you discuss positive changes, be sure to reference what you’re doing to improve the overall state of affairs. What are the steps you’re taking, and what steps do you wish others were taking, that would benefit everyone concerned? Look for ways to position yourself as an activist leader in your field, on the cutting edge of solutions.
The last question, of course, permits you to reference specific topics in your book as a way you’re serving your market.
How you say versus what you say
It’s not just your message that improves when you anticipate and prepare to be interviewed. The more you prepare, the more comfortable you’ll be during the interview…and your comfort instantly communicate itself to your interviewer as well as those reading, viewing, or listening to your interview.
With anticipation and preparation, your responses to the interview questions you’re asked will not only be on-point and relevant, but your delivery will also communicate your confidence, likability, and enthusiasm for your topic.
With a little anticipation and preparation, you’ll emerge as not only as expert, but as a likeable expert!
The ultimate preparation
I’ve found that the best way to prepare for an interview is to create your own interview questions and submit them ahead of time to the interviewer.
Preparing your own questions is a great confidence helps you rehearse your responses, increasing the likelihood that you’ll be able to insert “hooks” to your book and your personal brand.
There’s a high likelihood that your interviewer will ask some, or all, of the questions you submit in advance. It saves them preparation time and provides a structure for the interview.
It’s never too early to prepare to be interviewed
No matter young or old you are, or where you are in your publishing and personal branding journey, it’s never too early to prepare for your first interview.
Spend a few minutes each day anticipating the questions you’re likely to be asked and want to be asked during upcoming interviews, and jot down the key ideas and points you want to include in your answers. When the time comes to be interviewed, you’ll be able to respond with the words and the attitude that communicates your expertise, sells your book, and enhances your personal brand. How do you prepare to be interviewed? Share your favorite ideas and techniques as comments, below.
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Copyright © 2011 – Roger C. Parker. Roger C. Parker is a book coach whose www.publishedandprofitable.com site shares what he learned writing 40 nonfiction books, including #Book Title Tweet: 140 Bite-sized Ideas for Compelling Article, Book, and Event Titles. Before you start to write your next book, download a free proof copy of his do-it-yourself workbook, 99 Questions to Ask Before You Write or Self-publish a Brand-building Book.
Larry James is a professional speaker and the author of three relationship books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” His newest book is “Ten Commitments of Networking.” Larry James also offers “Author & Speaker” coaching. Contact: AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. CelebrateLove@cox.net – More than 110 articles especially for Authors & Speakers at: www.AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com
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