We’ve all seen it, a bumbling celebrity spewing nonsense on camera, digging their graves even deeper for the whole world to see. Even worse, the mindless politician blatantly dodging serious questions just to repeat the same thing over and over again.
Listening to badly media trained politicians like
The reality is that both of these individuals have most likely sat through some form of media training, given their backgrounds. So even with media training, ensuring quality trainers (that’s a whole other story) and practicing as much as possible, what are the main things one should watch out for in regards to media time?
Let’s dive right in, and in true media training fashion, I’m going to structure this around three key messages, just like a good spokesperson should!
Confidence is necessary for any good spokesperson, but this confidence needs to be laid in the right area. It should come from knowledge in the given topic of discussion as well as your own preparation for the interview (more on that later). Things can quickly go awry when this confidence is placed in the wrong areas. Overconfidence can lead to spokespersons not caring to prepare for the interview or even foregoing media training altogether – it’s very common to see individuals who are extroverts and are comfortable in many different social situations believing they can handle media.
Similar to confidence, a good spokesperson should approach interviews with a good amount of preparation. Note that preparation has a close relationship with confidence, as preparing properly will help boost confidence. For a spokesperson, preparation should not only evolve around the subject matter and clearly define key messages, it is also about understanding the context of the topic in the wider sphere.
However, be careful, as over-preparation can be deadly if the spokesperson remains focused on the topic or questions shared by the reporter prior to the interview, prohibiting a natural conversation flow and causing the spokesperson to freeze up.
A great example I always like to bring up is of a business leader I had once worked with. He was incredibly intelligent and charismatic, and while he was confident around his knowledge of his subject matter, he liked to prepare by having myself attack him from all angles with left-field questions to try and pull him off his key messages. He never rested on his laurels and was always a perfect spokesperson on camera, even when reporters tried their best to get a juicy headline.
Most media trainers will emphasise the importance of the main key messages a spokesperson has to hit during an interview. This is to prevent the spokesperson from getting caught up in the conversational flow with the reporter and letting them get what they want.
This, however, is not the only way to fail at controlling the conversation. While the bridging technique is often brought up to help a spokesperson bring back conversations to the topic and key messages they need to focus on, an overreliance on them can be problematic. Poor bridging technique or a robotic reliance on them will make any spokesperson look disengaged and unauthentic, not only coming off negatively for the audience, but also making it difficult for the reporter to get something to talk about.
Once upon a time in Hollywood, Tarantino had a major interview fail
So this brings us to the end of some of the key things all spokespeople should watch out for, by no means a fully exhaustive list, but at least a list that is simple to digest (hey, only three key messages!).
Do you have what it takes? If you want to find out about media training sessions or want to be grilled by our in-house media trainers, send us a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.