Giving Effective Interviews and Presentations


May/June 2008 California Veterinarian


By Lori Aldrete, MBA and Lisa Yates, MBA

Principals, ACS Quantum Strategies, LLC

Lori Aldrete and Lisa Yates are conducting two Practice Management sessions, “Preparing for a Successful Media Interview” and “Simple Formulas for Great Presentations,” on Thursday afternoon, June 26, at the Pacific Veterinary Conference in San Francisco.

Veterinarians are a valued source of information and highly trusted by the public so opportunities abound to get your messages out through the media and presentations.

It only takes one time of picking up the phone and discovering a reporter on the other end before we all quickly learn the value of being “prepared.” It could be your local newspaper, television, radio or 60 Minutes. The topic could be routine, such as West Nile Virus or pet nutrition; or it could be one of the “hot topics of the day” such as the pet food recall, treating animals in the midst of a disaster or your view of cat declawing.

We have found most veterinarians enjoy working with the media and giving live-audience presentations, but want some basic tips on getting prepared, staying on message and dealing with hostile questions.

Here is a brief overview of some key techniques and preparation tips.

Working with broadcast and print media

Experienced spokespersons have ways to stay on message regardless of the reporter’s tactics. During our years of serving as both interviewers and spokespersons, we have learned the best preparation includes:

• Preparing for tough questions by role playing with a trusted colleague prior to the interview.

• Being ready with key messages and sticking to them.

• Staying calm and positive.

• Being prepared for reporter traps.

• Offering solutions to the problem.

• Keeping control of the interview by staying on message and emphasizing the most important information.

• Being aware that humor is dangerous and doesn’t always translate well, especially in print.

• Dressing appropriately for the interview, especially for television or photos.


Public presentations are an excellent opportunity to win supporters and educate consumers about vital issues in properly caring for their pets and livestock. Many service clubs and other groups would welcome a presentation by their local veterinarian. Key elements for giving successful presentations include:

• Demonstrating empathy and friendliness with your audience.

• Delivering information in concise and simple terms.

• Speaking with enthusiasm and conviction.

• Knowing ahead of time what you want to achieve with the presentation.

• Preparing key messages and practicing them – then delivering your talk utilizing talking points rather than a written or memorized speech.

• Illustrating key points with memorable stories.

• Wearing clothes that reinforce the image you want to portray and do not distract from your presentation.

• Carefully planning and testing your visual aids to ensure they are effective and are in working condition.

• Anticipating and preparing for audience questions.


CVMA can help

The CVMA prepares fact sheets, key messages, press releases and background papers on many topics of interest to reporters and general audiences. If you are planning a presentation or are called by a reporter for an interview and would like information to assist you with your preparation, contact Phil Boerner at the CVMA, 916-649-0599.

© 2015 California Veterinary Medical Association

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