Interviewing Skills & Public Speaking

You jump out of your car – glowing from your victory! Suddenly a microphone is thrust in your face and you freeze, unable to say a word. Don’t let this happen!

We may not like being interview – we may hate the sound of our voices but if you want to race seriously, interviewing skills are a necessity. Now before I worry you further, these skills can be learned and here are a few pointers.

Know your voice.

Volume – speak clearly and breathe. By using your diaphragm to force the air through your larynx and out your mouth will produce a better sound.

Watch the speed at which you talk and the pitch. Interviews are time sensitive but running through your words will make the audience have trouble understanding you.

Know yourself and your sponsors. Our emotions may run high but keep your answers clean. If the interview is because of a racing incident, DO NOT use it to bash other racers, your team, the series, your life…because YOU will look bad. Do not air dirty laundry or your professionalism and credibility will suffer. If the interview is about a victory or another accomplishment, remember to validate your teams and sponsors efforts.

Not only should you be grateful for their help but a sponsor is there to be promoted by you and your team – always mention them. PRACTICE PRACTICE and PRACTICE. Know their name and pronounce it correctly.

“The ‘ABC Widget Company’ car was indestructible today …”

Recruit friends and family to be an audience. Tape yourself and play it back – make sure you naturally mention your team’s sponsors every chance you get. That is adding value to their sponsorship. Word emphasis is key.

The Interview:

Don’t panic. A good interviewer will help you along. Remember they are asking the questions and your purpose is to answer them the best you can. A good interviewer will be in control of the interview – let him/her start it and finish it. Try to be natural.

If by chance you get a bad interviewer, don’t panic. If you do not know the answer, say so. Remember you’ll be respected by saying “I don’t have an answer to that” instead of looking like a fool by making one up. Here is where practice can help. Have your friends give you some questions to answer – from the basics of “How was your race today” in which you briefly give a recap to “how do you feel about gun control” where by your answer or lack there of can be a situation to practice. Some may say you should answer your feelings but I for one think if asked a question which is irrelevant to your situation – feel free to say to your interviewer “Although it’s a serious issue, I’m not informed of the all the facts so can’t comment” or “I’d rather not discuss issues that don’t pertain to racing”. Both are acceptable and make you in control of the interview.

If you are going to a TV/radio station to be interviewed at the time of the confirmation feel free to ask what topics they plan to cover. Most of the time they will brief you so you can be prepared. For example if they want to talk to you about women in racing in general, then it gives you time to research some of the female pioneers, names, statistics etc.

So the next time you have a microphone thrust in your face, make friends with it. Take a deep breath and relax – you’re prepared. Think positively and all fear will disappear and you will shine like a true racerchick.

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Nika has had a love for cars and racing since childhood. A regional racing license holder she has been involved with the industry, working with racers, teams, journalists and automobile manufacturers in sponsorship solicitation, logistics, hospitality, road show and communication program implementation.