As you are growing up, adults tell you that “practice makes perfect”. Whether it is practicing your swing to one day play in the World Series or practicing your aim to be ready for a 20-point buck; practice is important. Think back to public speaking classes. The first speech is always the hardest. Being comfortable speaking to media at a press conference or on a media tour takes practice.
Media training is more than just practicing talking with media. Preparation is the key. Do you know how to interact with journalists; are you helping them by giving them useful information? More on this topic can be found in our blog, “When a Reporter Calls, It’s Opportunity Knocking”.
Once you establish the information is relevant to the media, it is time to start preparing by compiling your key messages. Think of key messages as the meat of your story. Keep the messages short and concise and make sure they say what you want to relay to the public. Once you have your key messages developed you need to know how to incorporate them into your answers to the interviewer’s questions. A formula I learned several years ago is the ABC method:
- Answer the question.
- Bridge to one of your key message points and lay out the facts.
- Conclude by telling your interviewer what those facts mean.
Using this method helps you stay on track to make sure your key messages are heard without ignoring what question was asked. By telling your interviewer what the facts mean, you leave any uncertainty out of the equation.
Prepare what you plan to say in your opening statement. Often the opening statement is the first impression you give to your audience and it is important to come across as knowledgeable and a trusted source for the matter at hand. In preparation for an interview, one-on-one or a press conference style, think of questions you may be asked and how you would respond. Talk out loud when preparing for the interview. This might be silly but speaking out loud will help you feel more confident in your answers. The closing statement should sum up what you want the audience to remember about the interview; after all it could be the last time you have the chance to share your message.
Working with an agency to prepare can help bring a different perspective on how to respond to questions you might not think about. Having an outside perspective is important because after all, that is where your audience is coming from. At the end of the day, practice makes perfect and the more you practice the more comfortable you will feel facing the media.