In the high-risk, high-reward world of media training, major stumbles during television interviews are seared indefinitely in the public’s memory. Nailing an interview is not so easy, even for well-known public figures and corporate executives.

Media relies on basic principles and varied techniques. Today we’re focusing on seven tips–and what can happen when interviewees ignore them. As noted below, not everyone is as well-versed in handling the media as Joe Torre, (left) a former Major League Baseball manager.

Preparation is key since winging it is never a good idea. Interviewees need to wrap their heads around not only the core topics, but also the show, the interviewer and his or her questioning style. An example of what not to do? Herman Cain appeared completely clueless when asked about Libya during a video interview in Milwaukee last November, leaving several seconds of awkward, empty air time.

Keep answers brief, limited to quick sound bites. While Vice President Joe Biden is well known for his rambling remarks, the communicator in chief may need to heed this tip as well: During NYU’s Hospitality Investment Conference in June, NBC’s Chuck Todd predicted that President Obama may not win the first debate this fall, because [almost] no one has cut his remarks short during his term in office–and debates have strict time limits.

Beware softball questions. “What newspapers and magazines do you read?” is not a technically difficult question. Still, it was enough to trip up Sarah Palin during her now-infamous interview with Katie Couric during the 2008 Presidential election that was later parodied on SNL.

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