Media Training Tips: Free Media Training 101 Handbook

Embracing the Evolving Media Landscape

In today’s rapidly changing media environment, media training goes beyond preparing for a traditional reporter’s questions. Interviews can happen anywhere, anytime, with anyone – on social media, using smartphones, or on various online platforms.

Given this new reality, the techniques presented in this course, adapted from the book Media Secrets, are more crucial than ever before. We’ll help you gain an action plan for making the most of every media opportunity.

Most media training programs focus on body language and controlling the conversation’s direction. While important, they often overlook a key question: “What do I want to create as a result of this interview?” We’ll explore how answering this question can guide your approach to media interactions.

Adapting to the New Media Landscape

With the constant changes in media platforms and communication channels, it’s important to stay on top of emerging trends to ensure your message is reaching the right people. Whether through TV, print, radio, or online channels like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and more, it’s essential to know how to control what you say and how it is received.

In this handbook, we’ll dive into how media consumption habits have evolved, with people accessing information through various channels at any time of day. We’ll also discuss how this change has created more targeted opportunities for reaching your desired audience.

Traditional Media vs. Internet Media: The Power of Both

In today’s media landscape, getting featured on a top US morning show like The Today Show or Good Morning America may not be as impactful as you’d think. While it provides credibility and third-party endorsement, other channels, like YouTube or Facebook, can garner more focused attention from your target audience.

In this handbook, we’ll explore the democratization of media and how ordinary people can leverage the power of internet media to achieve their desired outcomes. We’ll discuss the benefits of using traditional and internet media together for maximum effect.

Establishing Your Goals and Desired Outcomes

Before engaging in media interviews or seeking media attention, it’s vital to ask yourself what you want to create as a result and what actions you want people to take. Identifying your goals and desired outcomes will help you craft a path to success.

In this handbook, we’ll walk you through the process of determining your aims and aspirations, identifying the next steps, and building a strategy for achieving your media goals.

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First Things First

Before you even begin to go out and do interviews, you need to ask yourself a few very important questions. You should fill in the answers below. (Answering these questions is critical to your mission. If you don’t know the destination, you’ll never get there.)

What is my goal for my upcoming interview(s)?

(Do you just want to look and sound good or are you hoping the audience will do something. Do you want them to go to a website, buy your book or product? Do you want to make sure they understand your perspective on an event or idea?)

What do I need to have happen as a RESULT of the interview?

(Possible answers include: more sales, more credibility, and/or more web traffic. Looking more comfortable and confident is important, but should not be the end result you are driving towards.)

What would the Big Win look like?

How do you define Big Win?

This last question is one step beyond the results of the interviews. This includes both short and long-term success. Do you want to just look and sound better? Are you looking to get specific messages into your interview? Or, do you want to get more sales or drive more web traffic? All of the above? Write it down (above). (You can always revise your answer, but writing it down is the first step towards making it happen.)


You have to know where you’re going if you’re ever going to get there. You must “Begin with the End in Mind” as Stephen Covey says in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Know Your Destination

Having a clear sense of where you are heading is critical for this goal-setting process. If you don’t do this, you are destined to mediocre interviews. Mediocre means that, while nothing overtly terrible happened, nothing great happened either.


Most people think that media training is about having proper body language or not uttering ums and ahs while giving an interview. While both of those are important, it is also an opportunity to focus on the bigger picture. Use each interview as an opportunity to drive the audience to take action.

(Rest assured, I’ll help you with those other issues—body language and verbal clutter—later in the book.)


One Size Does Not Fit All

If I gave you a set of rules and said that everyone had to play by them, I would be giving you terrible advice.

Your goals and outcomes are completely different if you are a/an:

  • Corporate Spokesperson
  • Author
  • CEO
  • Celebrity
  • Politician
  • PR professional 3⁄4 Expert
  • Paid contributor

You must decide which techniques and systems are relevant to you and your situation.

Some techniques will be lifesavers to you in interviews. Others will apply to other media situations you may not face.

Use the ones that work for where you are in the process. Skip the ones

that are not for your situation.


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Don’t Over-Complicate

Many books and experts tend to make the idea of “media training” or “media consulting” complicated. However, my job—in this book and as an expert— is to constantly simplify the process.

Your job is the same. Decide what you want as a result of interviews and chart the course.

So, What Is an Interview?

You might say that, essentially, it’s a conversation (most commonly between two people) where one person is asking questions and another answering.


Actually, it’s more than that. Instead, I want you to think about interviews as one person asking questions, and the other answers, but . . . strategically injecting preplanned answers that have a goal in mind and… add value for BOTH parties.

And, guess what? You can do this in an authentic way! This process is not about putting one over on the media. It’s about having more control.

What Do Most People Want?

Before starting a media training session or program, clients often tell me that they want to feel more:

  • relaxed
  • comfortable
  • confident
  • in control

Those are great goals. But, it is important to understand that there is a big difference between the way something feels and the way it looks. You can feel nervous and look completely relaxed. You can feel relaxed yet look nervous.

Not bad. Right?!

But don’t worry; I’ll show you how you can also feel better during interviews. Much of it has to do with practicing and using the systems in this book.

Looking the Part (then feeling it, too) How do you look relaxed, comfortable, and confident?

There is a huge disconnect between the way an interview feels and the way it looks. Because of this, you might end with a completely different perception of what happened. Fortunately, there is an easy way to climb outside of your body and have a more objective view of what happened.

How do you do this? Record yourself, on video … (and then watch it!). This allows you to see what is happening, and keep making adjustments

toward making it look better.


If you are truly interested in looking and sounding great during your interview, you must practice with a video camera.


This is the only way for you to, quickly and objectively, course-correct, and begin to see yourself the way the rest of the world sees you.

This cannot happen by talking to yourself in the mirror, or by simply thinking about what you should do.

An athlete would never just sit and think about competing. They have to get out in a real situation for practice to work.

By the way, this technique is important whether we’re talking about

3⁄4 TV interviews
3⁄4 Radio interviews
3⁄4 Print interviews
3⁄4 Internet media interviews


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The data you learn from using a video camera is golden. This gold will pay off in how much faster you’ll improve.

Important to note: When you view the first few practice takes, you may not like them. That’s fine; you should be glad that you made some mistakes when there was no pressure and when it didn’t count. Step one is practicing so you look relaxed, comfortable, and confident.

Practice (on camera) LOOKING like you are confident and comfortable. Many of you have heard the phrase “Fake it ‘till you make it.”
Forget “Fake it ‘till you make it.” I say:


Clients often report after about a minute or two of acting this way, they begin to feel it as well.

The Good News

99% of my clients report after watching themselves after a first video rehearsal, that it LOOKED far better than it felt. That’s an interesting phenomenon. It’s also step one toward realizing you can actually do this.

The Bad News

You have to see yourself on camera. That means you’ll hate the fact that your hair appears backwards, your voice sounds funny, you’re feeling the “camera adds 10 pounds” effect. You might ask yourself, “How many cameras are on me?!” In this book I will give you techniques to deal with all of that trepidation. When critiquing yourself, you must learn how to become a fair critic of yourself.

This means:

  • 3⁄4  Notice what is actually working. (Do more of that.)
  • 3⁄4  Notice what isn’t working. (Do less of that.)
  • 3⁄4  Let go of being over-judgmental about things that may not bebig issues. (After reading the book, you should have a sense of what to look for and what matters most.)This all probably seems like common sense, but people let a lot of negative thoughts in their heads become limiting factors.

Practice Is Easier Than Ever

Making a video recording of yourself is easier than ever. Video devices are built into our smartphones, computers have web cams, there is often a video feature found on many digital still cameras.

So, there’s no excuse for not using this important tool to get some real data (on you!).

Steps to Feeling Better and
More Prepared During Interviews

The following list contains different practices you can try if you would like to feel better during interview situations:

  1. Prepare your messages in advance.
  2. Understand The Answer System (Chapter 4).
  3. Practice so the first time you deliver answers, it is not during the actual interview. Not practicing and hoping everything will be perfect is really making the process much harder. Unless you are a seasoned, comfortable interviewee, not practicing is a risk no one should take.
  4. Practicing with a video camera, using the playback, deciding what works and doesn’t and then repeating the process until you get the desired result.
  5. Experiencing interviews. Anything new can be stressful. The more you experience the process, the better you will feel. (You can practice privately and become more at ease during this process.)
  6. Working with a media trainer. Shameless plug here, but of course working with an experienced and knowledgeable coach at your side helps you to get to your destination even faster. All of the top athletes and leaders in business have coaches by their side.
  7. Listen to music that pumps you up on your way to the interview.
  8. Watch the interviewer in action prior to your interview. The more you get a sense of their style, the more you can strategize on how best to handle yours. This is helping you to eliminate the unknown. The more we can eliminate from the unknown, the better you’ll feel.

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  1. Put yourself in the interview location. In some circumstances you may be permitted to sit on the set of the TV show or sit/stand where you know the interview will take place. You can practice in your mind if people are close by. Being in the location, prior to the actual interview, will be a help and relax you more.
  2. Visualize and experience a successful interview. Of course, it helps if you have clear messages and have practiced them, as well. Then, you will have something concrete to visualize.
  3. If possible, chat with the interviewer prior to your interview. You can get a sense of where they plan to go in terms of the direction or tone of the interview. Make sure not to do this in a demanding or combative manner. Their job is to get the story and do right by their audience. Also make sure you realize that anything you say during this pre-interview or conversation is fair game for the actual interview. Nothing is “off-the-record.”
  4. Practice Power Poses.

Increasing testosterone, the hormone most associated with power, and decreasing cortisol, the hormone associated with stress, will definitely give you a confidence boost. Stand with your arms up in a winning “Y” position


for two minutes. This is meant to be done alone and prior to the interview or you’d look plain silly. According to researcher and Harvard Business School Associate Professor, Amy Cuddy, this positioning is common not just to winners of sporting events and marathons.

Young children who have never seen this power pose do it naturally after getting something they want. Blind people who have never seen it have thrown their arms up in victory. This is even something that has been seen in the animal world with primates.

Adopting expansive, open nonverbal postures that are strongly associated with power and dominance can increase testosterone by about 20% and decrease cortisol by about 25%.

Lower energy poses will do the opposite. Wrapping your arms around your torso or hunching down will achieve the opposite result.

Gee, if only people knew this when green rooms (the waiting room used before a TV interview) were designed. While waiting, most people sit down nervously in a tight ball for 40 minutes or so prior to an interview. Not exactly a recipe for success.


Fear can stop us from being our best. Let’s analyze how fear plays into speaking to the media—so we can get rid of it.

Is this fear a “fear of speaking?” Maybe, but that is probably simplifying what is really happening. Fear can have an immobilizing effect on us— preventing us from being our best, natural selves.

Most of the time, Fear of the unknown is the biggest piece of the equation. It is simply that you don’t know what to expect and you don’t know how it will go.

The Solution?

This book, and accompanying videos, eliminates much of the unknown. You can listen to the Media Training Quick Start Audio and quickly get up to speed. As for how the actual interview will go, practicing with a video camera will give you evidence that things can go your way—and is also a great way to reassure yourself that you can do this well.

Other fear factors also at play here . . .

Fear of looking bad. Practice and video evidence will help with that. Practice more than once. Our first attempt at something is rarely perfect.

Fear of forgetting. You’ll learn about the “road map” in our messaging section. That will give you a system for staying on track (or message) even if you lose your place.

Fear of questions. We’re back to fear of the unknown. The good news is, when you have great answers (The Message System—Chapter 3) and you have multiple techniques for dealing with questions (The Answer System— Chapter 4), then you set yourself up for success. You no longer have to worry about questions when you have great answers ready along with a system to move there. This can also be done in an authentic way so you don’t look like the politicians who get themselves into trouble for dodging questions.


Nerves. It’s ok to have some nervous energy or butterflies. Use them to your advantage. Again, when applying the techniques from this book, you want to see what the result looks like, NOT how it felt.

Feedback You May Have Received

I’ve worked with everyone from CEOs and high-level executives to U.N. officials and experts/ authors. And many, without fail, bring up critiques and advice they’ve heard along the way. Here is some of what they’ve shared with me:

“I once had a speech teacher that told me to sit on my hands.”

“People tell me I don’t move my hands enough.”

“Family members have told me that they don’t like my facial expressions and that I need to plan out some new ones.”

My answers usually sound like this:

Family members don’t always offer the best advice. What you want to do is to find some people who can look at your practice video and give helpful analysis using the guidelines in this book. Get multiple opinions, and then try some out for yourself.

While you will be learning techniques that give you more control, you still want to come off looking real and authentic . . . like the real you. When talking to the media, we might bring out a “bigger” version of you; but,

adding anything that looks artificial will not usually help. The Bottom Line On Body Language

While using your body language is a good thing, you may have too many or too little hand gestures. You may have a voice that is too high or too low. Ultimately it comes down to: Did you get the messages you wanted into the segment/story or interview? Are those other elements (especially, body language) adding or taking away from the interview? Usually, these are minor elements—ones you are giving more attention than they deserve. (See chapter 7 for more in-depth focus on body language.)


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Energy Level

Having proper energy is also important. Connecting with the passion that drives you will create the best media persona.

Your media persona is the on-air version of you. Many times this can be a slightly bigger version of the regular/relaxed you. As you practice, this will hopefully come as close as we can get to finding the perfect intersection between your media persona and the relaxed you— equaling an authentic media personality.

When I was a TV producer, I would stay in the greenroom during the show. Part of my job was to chat with the guests and make sure they were up to speed on what would be happening. Often I would discover that they had low energy. This is not a good thing for television. (Secret: low-energy is not a good thing for any interview. If you don’t seem passionate about your topic, no one else will be.) In those days, the only tool I had to get them into the right state of mind was to say, “Ok, before you go out there, think Energy, Energy, Energy!” That was hit or miss.

Now, I have a better tool. I ask clients:

“Why are you passionate about this?”

They instantly get into the state they need to be in for the interview.



The 55/33/7 Rule—or Myth?
It’s actually more of a myth than a rule, but you’ll hear public speaking

coaches misquoting a 1967 study.

Albert Mehrabian, a UCLA professor of psychology, actually did two studies. Essentially, the findings showed this . . . when people were asked to judge a speaker, nonverbal outweighed verbal information.

You’ll often hear people quote that:

3⁄4 7% of the impact relates to the words we use
3⁄4 38% refers to voice tone and inflection
3⁄4 55% refers to the body language and/or facial expressions.

Unfortunately, in its translation over the years, the study’s interpretation has become “dumbed down.” When people present the findings, they don’t speak about situations where this works or doesn’t work.

For example, are we talking about someone giving a speech on a stage, a teacher giving a lesson, or a TV pundit pontificating? Should all be treated equally? Does a message have greater impact on you because you really need to hear it at this time in your life, or because it was delivered in a theatrical way? If a teacher says he will fail anyone who does not remember this next concept, is it his body language that is making the impact? If a TV pundit says all insert ethnic group should be barred from entering a country, is it her hand gestures that make the comments more memorable?

Here’s What Really Matters . . . BOTH!

You must have both style and substance when you communicate. It is as simple as that.

In the 50 years since this research was conducted, others have come to their own conclusions. Do your own analysis…

Try This Exercise:

1. Go to and watch some of the speakers that give talks in 20 minutes or less. Or, check out a few I selected for you:

Secrets for Getting Started | 25

  1. After 7 seconds, ask yourself:What am I judging this person on?
  2. After the speech ends, ask:
    Now what am I judging this person on?

I will give you my own analysis. It all matters. People make judgements on appearance and style, but the more value these speakers offer, the less important those things can become. It comes back to the what’s in it for us? angle. If the speech (and the speaker) delivered real value to me, I’d be willing to overlook or easily get past any “snap” judgments that were made.

New Rules for Giving Energetic Interviews

If you have something interesting to say, but you tell it in a boring way . . . people won’t connect with you.

If you have plenty of style with regard to voice and body language but don’t have anything of value to say, people won’t connect with you.

And here comes the combination:


Here’s a postscript on this, and it is covered in-depth in Chapter 10—Media as Marketing. It is no longer good enough to have something interesting to say. It is no longer good enough to just have great body language or be stylish when communicating. You must also Call People to Action. You must tell them what they should do.

We are all familiar with the common commercial directive above. Studies show that your results dramatically increase when you ask people to do something. Sales professionals call it the Power of the Ask.


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A Brand-New Skill

Giving a speech or presentation to a group of people is a different skill than speaking to a reporter or journalist.

When giving a speech, your goals may include keeping people awake, telling interesting stories, or to motivate or inspire.

While you might have some of those goals when talking to a journalist, your biggest goal should be getting specific answers into the story.

You might tell great stories or inspire the reporter, but if the final story only includes a quote that says: James Jones told us, “Yes. I was surprised to learn of this.” (or some other boring, nonspecific quote), you will likely be disappointed with the coverage.


Leveraging interviews means multiplying its effect.

In the “old” days, when someone would go on a show or appear in the newspaper, they had to make sure people were paying attention at that moment. If people weren’t “tuning in” or reading the paper that day, it meant the exposure and promotional opportunities were lost.

Secrets for Getting Started | 27 Today, Internet media can give you brand-new opportunities to build

on traditional media coverage.

For example, let’s say you had an opportunity to be a guest on the number #1 rated national TV show. Let’s also suppose that seven million people are tuning in. While that number is large, look at it in comparison to the number of people in the country. It is obviously a small slice. Also, many people who you might want to see your story are at work, sleeping, or not paying full attention to the program.

Let’s also think about the percentage of people that are your pure demographic— the target audience for your product, service, or idea. That is a smaller piece of that seven million. This is presenting some real issues in spreading your idea to the masses.

Enter . . . the Internet.

Placing traditional interviews and articles across your website(s) not only extends the shelf life of that interview, but it adds credibility. A media outlet interviewing you shows that you are a source they felt was reputable enough to show. The result is . . . trust.


Trust is a huge component when it comes to growing a business, selling something, building relationships with the public or potential clients. One might wonder if doing traditional media is still worth it. Why not just record your own interview and put it on the web. While that is not a bad


idea for promotional purposes, an interview where you are featured by a known media entity brings with it an implied endorsement. When people see you, they feel they can trust you.

Secrets for Leveraging Every Media Interview Opportunity

Prior to the Interview

  • 3⁄4  Send your interviewer some “information and resources” to make their lives easier. This includes a suggested introduction. While they can introduce you however they choose, they will often use some of your wording and not forget key credits you’d love mentioned prior or during the interview itself.
  • 3⁄4  Send suggested questions to your interviewer.
  • 3⁄4  Write out how you wish to be credited (again, you are suggesting,not demanding, this).
    3⁄4Promote your upcoming interview on Facebook, Twitter,LinkedIn, and other social media outlets where you already

    have professional relationships or a following.

  • 3⁄4  Ask “friends” on those social networks to re-post your promotion.
  • 3⁄4  Mention the interview in any email newsletters you many send out.
  • 3⁄4  Send announcements to trade organizations or those that might notjust be impressed, but find value in the content.During the Interview
  • 3⁄4  Give people a reason to go to your website. Give them something of value.
  • 3⁄4  Use the Call to Action strategy as discussed in the messaging section of this book. People won’t ACT on what you say unless you TELL THEM TO DO SOMETHING.

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After the Interview

  • 3⁄4  Collect names and email addresses in exchange for a value item on your website. This value item could be a downloadable Top 10 list, an audio, a free video, recipes, a spread sheet, etc.
  • 3⁄4  Take your interview and post a link on your website.
  • 3⁄4  Take your TV interview and put it on YouTube.
  • 3⁄4  Take your audio interview and put it on YouTube. First you must“marry” or join the audio to a graphic and turn it into a video file. (You can use Windows Movie Maker or Mac iMovie to create the new file.) The graphic should be enticing, and should have the media logo and possibly your face as well as the interviewer’s face on it. If that is too difficult, sign up for a free account. You will be able to upload audios, marry a graphic to it, and create a finished product you can embed on a website, blog or social media page.
  • 3⁄4  Take your article and grab a still shot of it. Record an audio track where you talk about the interview. Combine the two and put it on YouTube. (Be sure to observe copyright laws as they apply.)
  • 3⁄4  Always make sure to properly title and “tag” your YouTube videos.
  • 3⁄4  Put any of these videos or links on a media section of your business site, your personal site (one that is “”) and any othersites you have access to.
  • 3⁄4  Find any quotes from the interview that highlight you in a specialway and save them for promotional use. i.e. “Jess Todtfeld is a mediatraining expert.” —The Washington Post
  • 3⁄4  Remember to USE these quotes in promotional materials. It gives you massive credibility in front of your potential audience.
  • 3⁄4  Use these quotes or interview snippets that you are proud of, when promoting yourself to more media outlets.Are there more ways to multiply the effect of interviews? Absolutely.

How to Practice

Let’s simplify things. If you were learning how to play the piano or a sport, like say basketball, what would be the best way to improve your skill?

Actual practice—obvious, right?

Most people don’t do the obvious. They choose to “wing it.” Winging it is when someone just does what feels natural to them at the time, without a thought-out plan. Most people just sit and think about the interview. While that’s a start, if done without actual practice, you won’t become a better at anything, and that includes media interviews.



What you can do is come up with the most basic questions you might get asked, and can certainly practice those before an interview. For example, a most basic question an author is asked is, “Can you tell me about your book?” You would be shocked to hear how many authors have told me they have gotten tripped up on this type of question. It’s the same as, “Tell me about yourself,” in a job interview. Definitely be prepared for some form of this softball type of question. Though it is very basic, people still tend to get tripped up on it.

Steps for Practicing Interviews the Smart Way

  • 3⁄4  Think about what outcomes you desire. Write them down.
  • 3⁄4  Write out “messages” or “answers” you’d like to deliver
  • 3⁄4  Organize these messages into 3 categories (You will learn this in theMessaging System, Chapter 3.)
  • 3⁄4 Write out some “sound bites” or quotes that would work. (You will learn more about this in the Sound Bite System, Chapter 5.) Add them to your message grid.

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    3⁄4 3⁄4

    3⁄4 3⁄4 3⁄4

    Keep in mind your Answer System techniques so that you can artfully and authentically deliver the right answers. (You will learn more about this in the Sound Bite System, Chapter 4.)
    PRACTICE at least once with a video camera.

    Playback the video and critique it. Don’t forget that you want to be a fair critique of yourself.
    Decide what worked . . . do more of that.
    Decide what didn’t . . . do less of that.

    In an ideal world, you would practice at least once more, if not a few times more on camera, with critique afterwards. I say in an ideal world, because people often say they will, but may not make the time. We are talking about five minutes of practice and five minutes of playback time here. Finding ten minutes will be invaluable to you.

    If you practice this way, you will see enormous benefits. Additionally, you’ll skip learning the hard way—messing up in actual interviews, and adjusting afterwards. Which do you prefer?

    Training With an Expert

    If you are really serious about perfecting your interview skills, have an expert on your side. Having someone to coach you through the process and get you to your destination faster is ideal.

    A media trainer can help you:

    3⁄4 Learn to get specific messages into media stories 3⁄4 Never be misquoted
    3⁄4 Drive traffic to your website
    3⁄4 Measure interview success

    3⁄4 Reduce the amount of preparation time for interviews
    3⁄4 Get the media to help you “plug” your brand, product or service 3⁄4 Reduce tension
    3⁄4 Project leadership

    Your trainer will also help you separate “the most important” elements in a critique from the trivial issues.


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