Can You Pass the Two-Minute Drill for Media Training?

Have you ever watched a basketball game as it gets down to the last few seconds?

One team is guarding a lead and the other team has precious little time to tie the score or pull out a victory. But as the seconds tick off the clock, the losing team realizes there isn’t enough time to pull out a victory.

If only they had five seconds more, they would have enough time to set up the shot that could win the game.

But the other team wisely realized this. They planned for the end-game in which the clock was their friend. And they realized this five minutes ago.

That’s when they held the ball for a few seconds longer than necessary. That’s why they passed the ball a few more times than needed.

In other words, they started to kill the clock.

In those minutes, precious seconds were lost. And those seconds came back to haunt the losers at the end.

The same is true for spokespeople as they sit in a structured in-studio debate on news shows.

I recently saw a CNN faceoff between two NY State Assemblypersons who were on either side of an issue.

The interviewer gave a short intro about the problem and then asked the first speaker a question.

He paused. One. Two. Three.

He thanked the interviewer for inviting him on to the program. One. Two. Three. He answered the question. He got in his talking points. He hit a home run.

The interviewer asked the other person a question and she dove right into an answer.

The interviewer then asked the first person another question.

He paused. One. Two. Three. He talked and talked until the interviewer cut him off.

Out of time, she thanked each person for being on the show and signed off.

I can just imagine what was going through the second person’s mind.

“I didn’t get a second chance to talk, like he did. She didn’t allocate the time fairly. And two minutes sure goes by in a hurry.”

Yes, two minutes does go by in a hurry. And interviewers live by the clock.

They don’t try to play favorites, but they have to live within the time allotted. If that means cutting someone off, or not giving equal time, well, that’s the way the ball bounces.

The media trained pro knows how to play the time game.

And media trained pros know what to do when time is running out so they can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

How can you prepare so you don’t get caught on the wrong side of the two-minute drill?

Here are six tips to make your TV appearance a success:

  1. Find out what the time constraints are.
  2. Ask the interviewer for the questions she will ask. If you can’t get that, brainstorm with your PR people and media trainer about the range of questions she might ask.
  3. Know the points you want to make.
  4. Tighten those points.
  5. Tighten those points again. The less we say, the more people remember.
  6. Get media trained by a real pro, in a realistic TV setting, with cameras and lights and a producer talking to you via an earpiece to simulate the experience.

If you follow these publicity tips, you might be able to snatch free publicity from the jaws of defeat.

Dan Janal, author of Reporters Are Looking for YOU! helps small businesses get publicity so they can sell more products. My clients get terrific results from my coaching, consulting, done-for-you services and do-it-yourself tools. For info, go to or call me at 952-380-1554.