How does a conversation go from a mistaken text about a walking tour in the birthplace of America to talking about a potential Ben Franklin zombie apocalypse?

Well, it all started when I recently had the opportunity to visit Philadelphia for the first time to give a media training presentation at a weekend regional conference. Ahead of the presentation, I grabbed a cheesesteak and did the touristy walking tour of Philadelphia: Liberty Hall, the Liberty Bell, the President’s House, and of course, Ben Franklin’s grave. After mistakenly responding to a work text with excitement about the things I saw during this walking tour, we turned to my next destination, Franklin’s grave. Initial thoughts of grandeur of this tomb quickly led way to a note that it was cracking – and what does any millennial think of when they see a cracking tomb? Zombie apocalypse.

As I sat back and thought about the course of the discussion and my own presentation the next day, I quickly realized the lesson in it all… while people are comfortable quickly changing topics in their day-to-day life, that level of ease doesn’t present itself during interviews.

People prepare for what they know, but they often fail to think about other aspects of an interview and the other topics that can pop up, stories of the day that could impact their expertise, or even the type of reporter with whom they’re choosing to sit down.

As a result, people will often head into an interview nervous and not confident – and viewers can feel it.

So what are some tips to be interview ready?

  • Know your points. Folks are often uncomfortable with interviews because like so many others, they fear the unknown. The more confident you are in your knowledge, the more confident you’ll be in the interview. So practice.
  • Take a deep breath. It’s easy to build up the ante and nervousness as you get closer to air time, but taking a deep breath can release the nervousness and loosen you up, which also helps with how you project your non-verbal communication as well.
  • Learn from your mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve made a mistake; it only adds pressure for the next time. Instead, watch or listen to your interview, take notes about what you like and don’t like about your interviews, and learn. As you do more interviews, your confidence will grow and your nervousness will cease.
  • Read the news. Just because you’ve agreed on a set topic, doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t ask you about trending topics. So read the news of the day,  see what reporters are talking about, and check their Twitter account. This will allow you to prepare for surprise questions and relieve some tension as well.

Remember, even an accident that resulted in a conversation about the zombie apocalypse led by Franklin can teach us a thing or two about interview preparedness.

-Preya Samsundar