I saw a woman interviewed on television today. She was the mother of one of the World Trade Center victims on September 11, 2001. Her son was an off-duty police officer who was supposed to be on the golf course that morning, but he voluntarily rushed to the scene to help, where he saved many lives and sacrificed his own.
This woman broke every media interview rule in the book this morning. She wore a hat that didn’t fit. She had no “talking points.” She talked of struggling to forgive Osama Bin Laden but that she would try, and then leave justice to God. And she talked of a meeting with then President Bush in the days after her son died. In matter-of-fact terms, she described another human being, not a caricature, who consoled her at a time of need.
Any one of these things could cause a media interview to go south in seconds, yet this interview was different. She broke every rule of successful media interviewing, and yet she likely won the hearts of hundreds of thousands if not millions. So how did she do it?
She spoke from the heart, simply and with compassion, and ultimately with a general optimism that she exuded from start to finish. Through all her experiences in life, she continued to have faith, and it all came through.
There is no better preparation for a media interview than going into it with the right attitude.