This Facebook notice popped up as I signed in: “How to spot fake news.” When I was a kid, news was news, or so I thought. Now, it seems everyone has an opinion or a spin. The effect of all this craziness is polarization. Most of us sense the increasingly adversarial nature of communication. We often walk on eggshells around people who have a different opinion for fear we may offend them. And there is another problem; we have lost the important art of discernment. So how do we communicate important ideas on interviews that will stick with listeners or viewers? How do we get our news, our views into the marketplace in ways that impact and change lives?

Let me confess something before I go further. The older I get, the less tolerant I am for mediocrity. Maybe it’s because I spent so much time planted on hard pews listening to boring preachers as a kid. Now, we see church services that are no more than an hour. It is four songs, twenty minutes of preaching and out the door. This seems to be the approach people want. So keep this in mind when you do interviews. People do not have the same attention span they used to. Second, people have options so you can ill afford to bore your audience like preachers did when I was growing up.

Let’s say that you have been scheduled for an interview about your book, conference, or topic you want to discuss. Now what? It seems silly to even mention this but be prepared. I know you think that because you wrote about a topic you know it inside and out. But don’t go into any interview without prayer, preparation, and energy. Second, tell stories. People like stories. They remember stories. They retell your stories. Link your stories to important points you want to make. Jesus did this effectively. It is a way to connect. I once had a counselor tell me my opinions were worth “five cents and a cup of coffee.” At the time that came across a bit condescending but I get it. So remember this, people care less about your opinions. They want to know how what you know, or write about, is going to help them.

We want to be entertained or to learn something that will help us. The “hook” for your communication has to be focused on what the audience wants, not just on what you believe, think, or want to say. To the extent that you focus on others, people will want your product. We live at a time when over-selling often has the opposite effect of turning people off. Good interviews, effective interviews, interviews that help sell books, are those that create a want or need or that exploit an existing need. Find the need represented by your book, tell stories that accentuate that need, and give listeners or viewers an easy way to find your product.