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KEYS TO SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS. Faces & Voices of Recovery Webinar Part 2: Messaging for Young People in Recovery Keys to Successful Interview Trainers: Justin Luke Riley Pat Taylor April 4, 2013 . Learn tips to prepare for interviews Learn techniques for working with reporters

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Faces & Voices of Recovery Webinar

  • Part 2: Messaging for Young People in Recovery
  • Keys to Successful Interview
  • Trainers:
  • Justin Luke Riley
  • Pat Taylor
  • April 4, 2013
our goals
Learn tips to prepare for interviews
  • Learn techniques for working with reporters
  • Learn tips on how to look, act and speak your best
Our Goals
Decide if this interview makes sense for you and your organization
  • Determine your primary goal in participating in the interview
  • Role play the interview and rehearse hard questions
  • Visualize your audience and speak to them as though they were in the room
  • Assume that everything you say will be recorded or written down
prepare for interviews know your message
Know in advance which points you want to get across – work them into your responses
  • Focus on your key points, not the interviewer’s points
Prepare for Interviews: Know Your Message
prepare for interviews deliver your message
Colorful language -- metaphors or analogies – help make your point and increase the likelihood of being quoted
    • “Recovery helped me pick up the shattered pieces of my life”
    • “My life was a freight train going downhill with no brakes”
  • Use personal stories – you and your work, family, school or friends – to support your points
  • Avoid jargon or technical language – just speak as you would to another teen or young adult
Prepare for Interviews: Deliver Your Message
prepare for interviews facts you can use
Tens of thousands of Americans recover from addiction every year
  • Over 20 million Americans are in long-term recovery from addiction
  • Untreated addiction is a public health crisis – deaths of young people and adults rise every year
  • Untreated addiction costs the US over $450 billion every year
Prepare for Interviews: Facts You Can Use
prepare for interviews facts you can use1
Untreated addiction affects millions of youths. In 2011:
  • An estimated 9.7 million underage youths drank, including 6 million binge drinkers and 1.7 million heavy drinkers
    • For 18 to 25 year olds, the rate of binge drinking was nearly 40 percent
  • An estimated 22.5 million Americans aged 12 or older were current illicit drug users
    • For 12-17 year olds, the rate was 10 percent
    • For 18-25 year olds, the rate was 21 percent, and the rate for nonmedical use of prescription painkillers was 5 percent
  • More than 8 out of every 10 Americans who need services for addiction to alcohol and other drugs are not receiving the help they need to get well
Prepare for Interviews: Facts You Can Use
techniques working with a reporter
Don’t allow the reporter to set the tone of the interview
    • Set a comfortable pace for yourself by pausing and gathering your thoughts
  • NEVER lie to a reporter
  • If you don’t know the answer, say so but tell the reporter you will get the information – and then do it
Techniques: Working with a Reporter
techniques working with a reporter and staying on message
If you get a question you don’t want to answer, change the question by using a bridging or “pivoting” phrase such as:
    • “Another thing to remember…”
    • “That’s not my area of expertise, but what I can tell you is…”
    • “Another way of thinking about this is…”
    • “Thank you for asking, but what I would like to reinforce is…”
    • “The most important thing to remember…”
Techniques: Working with a Reporter and Staying on Message
techniques staying on message
Q. “Some people believe addiction is a personal or moral weakness. How do you respond?”
  • “More important than addiction…is recovery. The fact is that treatment and long-term recovery have proven to work for millions of young Americans like me.”
Techniques: Staying on Message
techniques staying on message1
Q. “What was it like to be an addict?”
  • “What I can tell you about is recovery. As a young person in long-term recovery, I’ve been able to create a better life for myself as I mature into adulthood. Since I entered long-term recovery at the age of [x], which was [y] years ago, I’ve finished college and am applying to graduate programs. I also have become engaged, and am much closer to my family as a result of my recovery.”
Techniques: Staying on Message
techniques speaking effectively with varied vocal patterns
Highlights points with variation in voice pitch and intensity
  • Pause for effect
  • Speak slightly slower than normal
  • Keep a relaxed informal tone
Techniques: Speaking Effectively with Varied Vocal Patterns
techniques speaking effectively1
Lead with a positive conclusion and then state supporting facts. All other remarks should support your lead statement.
    • Example: “Long-term recovery is working for millions of American teens and young adults like me…”
  • Tell ‘em what your going to tell ‘em. Tell ‘em. Tell ‘em what you told ‘em.
Techniques: Speaking Effectively
techniques speaking effectively2
Be brief – responses to questions should be short; 18-30 second sound bites.

“For the first time, young people in recovery are starting to speak in one voice to change the public perception of recovery and to promote effective public policy that helps teens and young adults.”

Techniques: Speaking Effectively
keys to successful television interviews
Be prepared to make only one point
  • Talk as though you were talking with a friend
  • Expressions
    • Overemphasize positive expressions (negative characteristics are exaggerated on TV)
    • SMILE
Keys to Successful Television Interviews
pre interview
Make sure you have water
  • Introduce yourself to the technicians
  • Chat with the interviewer before it starts
    • Make clear what you want to cover
    • Get a sense of what s\he wants to discuss
posture and eye contact
Sit as far back in your chair as possible
  • Lean slightly forward
  • Maintain eye contact with the interviewer
Posture and Eye Contact
physical gestures
All gestures should be in the triangle from the bottom of your chin to your lower chest, in the area below your shouldersPhysical Gestures
Remove nametags and buttons
  • Eyeglasses – If you can, don’t wear


  • Wear dark suit and white or light blue shirt
  • Wear red, maroon or gray ties without distracting patterns
  • Wear socks that are same or darker than suit
  • Women
  • Wear neutral colors without large patterns
  • No big jewelry
  • Not too much or too bright lipstick
keys to successful radio interviews
Keep your answers short
    • Generally only one or two sound bites will be used
  • For a phone interview, stand up or perch forward on your chair – be a little uncomfortable so you sound alert
  • Be expressive and animated
  • Speak clearly and at a moderate pace
Keys to Successful Radio Interviews
keys to successful print interviews
While often longer, use only a small portion of what you say gets used
  • In the longer format, it’s easier to get off track
  • Remember your key message and deliver it
  • Flag your key messages by saying things like “the most important point” or “what people should really know is”
Keys to Successful Print Interviews
keys to successful print interviews1
Don’t let your guard down. Remember anything you say can be included in the story
  • Hard questions don’t mean that the reporter has taken a side
  • Deliver a “closing statement” that restates your main messages
  • If you are unsure of an answer, tell the reporter that you will get back with the information – and then do it
Keys to Successful Print Interviews
Prepare for your interview

Know your key messages


Dress appropriately

  • Deliver your key messages
  • Think about your audience

Use your voice

Maintain eye contact

  • Stay on message

Use Faces & Voices recovery messaging to tell your recovery story

Make it personal

Use your message in all parts of your life with

Family and friends

Neighbors and co-workers

Writing and blogging

Media and public officials



messaging media interview resources
Messaging & Media Interview Resources

Recovery Messaging from Faces & Voices of Recovery

Recovery Messaging Q&As for Young People in Recovery

The Tip Sheet for Media Interviews

Our Stories Have Power DVD featuring interviews by people in recovery, family members and friends

Young People in Recovery Website:



Feedback Categories

  • 1). Delivery
    • Vocal Volume
    • Speaking Pace
  • 2). Handling of Q & A
    • Listen Intently
    • Identify Core Issues
  • 3). Organization
    • Staying on Message
    • Facts
    • Call for Action



join us
Join Us!


Pat Taylor, Executive Director, Faces & Voices of Recovery
  • 202-737-0690
  • Justin Luke Riley, National Council, Young People in Recovery
  • 720-401-5500
  • Supported in part by the Substance
  • Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) and Faces & Voices donors.