I MEAN to say
I = Idea. Ensure you have an agenda, so you don’t end up following the interviewer’s. A clear idea of what your business objective is when you give the interview is essential. It’s also a good idea to consider who is the best spokesperson for this particular interview.
M = Message. It may sound obvious, but you need to have something to say. Decide on the key points that you want to get across to this particular audience, so you don’t end up just answering the interviewer’s questions (see also ‘As easy as ABC’).
E = Evidence or Examples. Illustrate your points with tangible examples, for instance from your own experience. Use facts and figures, by all means, but it is often more effective if your examples have a human dimension, so anecdotes or scenarios can be powerful.
A = Audience. Adjust the message to make it appropriate for each specific audience and the media outlet(s) in which you’re appearing. Try to understand each audience’s likely concerns, values and needs. Do, however, ensure a consistent message, even though the precise wording might vary for different audiences.
N = Negatives. Whilst we shouldn’t necessarily dwell too much on negatives, it may be helpful to spend a little time thinking what the most likely negative questions might be, as these will often be quite predictable. Try asking yourself “what’s the worst question they could ask?” and rehearse your response accordingly.
Going through the I MEAN approach before an interview is a good way to prepare, to ensure you get across what you mean to say.
With thanks to Dave Mason of Mentor, whose excellent book ‘Handling the Media in Good Times & Bad’ provided the original idea (and many of the words!) for this tip.