Handling the Mediaby Jennifer Stenhouse
Deal with the nerves
As dealing with the media is not a daily routine for most people, you are likely to be anxious beforehand. There are processes that can minimise your anxiety. Being nervous is a state, and you can change states just by using your physiology – your body. This is the most direct way to change your state. If you’re feeling anxious, slow your breathing rate and take your time to exhale.
It is possible to feel nervous or anxious just by breathing quickly and shallowly, as if you were frightened. On the other hand, if you act as if you’re feeling good, you will start to actually feel good. Try smiling broadly, stand up straight and look up. Anxious people tend to huddle and look down. By changing your body, you can change your mental state.
Another way of doing this is to think of a time when you were very sure of yourself and held the upper hand. Go back to that scene and experience it fully, seeing it through your own eyes. Note what you see. Hear again the voices and noises around you. Enjoy the feeling you had then. When you’re ready, come back to the present. You will have changed your state. Hold on to that positive state as you meet the media.
Changing negative pictures
Constantly creating vivid pictures in your mind of what can go wrong is going to make you feel bad. Here’s a strategy that will help you improve your performance in interviews. It will also be useful before giving any presentation.
- Think of an unsatisfactory interview in the past, when you would have wanted to act or react differently. If this is your first interview, think of a similar situation where you felt things went badly. Picture yourself at the beginning of the incident, as though you were watching it on video. Pause the picture just before everything went wrong.
- Ask yourself: ‘What would be more effective here in creating the result that I intended?’ Accept anything that comes to mind and try it out by replacing what actually happened with the alternative. Now look on as you act out whatever the new behaviour is on your mental video.
- Next, step into your home video. You’re back in the interview situation, but this time, act out the scene in the way which would be better. Experience it as fully as you can. Notice the sounds you hear, what you see and what you feel. Enjoy yourself! Check again that this works well. If it doesn’t feel right, come out of the scene again and think of an alternative, then go through the process as many times as it takes until you know you’ve got it right.
- Finally, ask yourself: ‘What will let me know that it is time to use this new behaviour?’ Identify exactly what you would see, hear or feel that would act as your cue to behave this way. Next time you’re in a difficult interview situation, you’ll be ready. You’ll have rehearsed the new choice and it’ll be available to you.