MAJ Naomi Carrington says:
Interviews on TV look easy. Smooth and polished. But what happens when a camera is stuck into your face and you have to speak intelligibly to the world? I recently completed Advanced Media Training in group sessions, and I found out. I highly recommend the class to everyone.
We got to first base with the classroom lecture. You will never look at an interview on television the same way again. With our instructor, Mr. Steve Liewer, we dissected real interviews and gained valuable techniques and insights into how to conduct different types of interviews. Most valuable to me was the discussion of how civilians perceive uniformed personnel. Keep in mind “Aunt Bee” — a fictional character from “The Andy Griffith Show” who serves as a stand-in for the non-military members of your audience — when telling the story of what you are talking about, you will remove the military jargon and explain all the acronyms.
We got to second base with a remote interview, in which a “reporter” in one location speaks with an interviewee in another. CNN, here we come! This session, with real equipment and lighting, gave me the confidence to at least not fear a remote interview. I found myself fighting hard to not react with my eyes and facial expressions to off-the-wall, left-field comments from the reporter through the earpiece. Since your eyes tell a story, too, you have to stay focused.
We got to third base with a one-on-one, sit-down session with a reporter much like “Good Morning America” or “The Today Show.” This session was great for identifying personal idiosyncrasies that work or should be eliminated. For example, I discovered that my message is better conveyed when I use my hands as I am a natural hand-talker. I came across more natural and coherent when I used my hands while speaking. It was painfully evident when I was trying to control my hands. The camera catches it all.
The run to home base was a mock press conference. To add to the realism, I had to stand on a box because the podium was so large I could not be seen by the press corps. I surely would have been graded negatively if I had not taken control of the environment. My group had a real international reporter. She was astute, even challenging me on an incorrect data point I stated.
All in all, because of AMT, I have confidence that I will not embarrass myself in a media engagement. I did not do as badly as I thought I would with a camera and photographer in my face. Reviewing the recordings of the interviews was interesting. It is not very often that you get to see yourself on camera. So now if I had to prepare myself or someone else for a media engagement, I have some tools, resources, and experience on which to fall back.
MAJ Naomi Carrington, ILE 12-02, Staff Group 4D