Media Training for Radiologists

Tips for an on-camera interview

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As radiology evolves, you may be asked to give an interview about the changing field and technology. That’s great news! Being interviewed by local or national media has the potential to simultaneously educate the public on patient care issues while also raising your profile and advancing knowledge about our profession.

The thought of an on-camera interview can be unnerving – even for seasoned media professionals – but the experience doesn’t have to be. The more comfortable you are, the better the interview will go.

Here are some lessons learned from my first on-camera interview:

  1. Do your homework ahead of time. The more you know at the outset, the more comfortable you will feel walking into the interview. Find out the format (live or taped) and the length. Familiarize yourself with the person and/or program interviewing you, the intended audience, and the angle of the interview. For example, does the reporter have a special interest in medical news? Are there similar news stories you can reference? What are they looking for? How in-depth is it going to be? You can request a list of questions in advance, but understand that most of the time this will not be provided. Many of the media’s requests are on an incredibly short timeline so flexibility on your end is vital. Think carefully about the key messages you want to convey. Look up a few interesting statistics and check your facts so that you can speak confidently when the time comes.
  2. Practice, practice, practice. Practice in the mirror. Film yourself on your smartphone. You can’t practice too much. If it’s going to be a short or taped interview, rehearse a few snappy soundbites. Focus on main points you want to get across and anything else will be bonus material. Keep your responses simple and avoid using medical jargon when possible. Think about how to express your subject in everyday terms. Rather than spew facts, use personal stories and analogies to illustrate your points (i.e., a 2-D mammogram is like reading a book by the cover whereas 3-D mammograms allow the radiologist to read the words on the pages). When answering a question, say what you mean and then stop. Don’t feel pressured by silences during the interview. It’s okay to segue and repeat yourself to drive home your key messages.
  3. Look the part. People will first pay attention to how you look before they pay attention to what you say. If you’re being filmed in the clinical setting, wear a whitecoat. If you’re in the studio, wear something smart but comfortable. Avoid distracting clothing such as tight-fitting tops, novelty ties, or busy patterns like stripes or houndstooth. Remember to sit up straight! This will give you a natural boost of confidence. Also, be prepared to be asked to ‘perform’ as a radiologist in front of the camera. The film crew may want footage of you reading at your workstation or in the department.
  4. Be enthusiastic. When I watch newscasters, I’m amazed by their ability to smile while talking. Remember that a smile can go a long way conveying approachability. Approach the interview as a good conversation and not a debate. Try to project confidence even if you are a nervous wreck inside. No one will believe in what you are saying if you don’t believe it yourself.

People say to be yourself on camera. If you are naturally gregarious, eloquent, and on message then you’ll do just fine. The rest of us need to put in a little effort to pull this off, but it can be done!

Ann L. Brown, MD
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