Executives I have worked with fall into two categories.
1) Those who are forward thinking and know that being media-savvy makes them even more valuable to their company.
2) Those who'll do just about anything to avoid dealing with the media and will only attend a media training workshop if forced to do so.
Regardless of which one describes you, it is likely that at some point in your career you'll find yourself in the media spotlight. It could be that a crisis hits your company and someone needs to address the public quickly and that someone is you. Or, perhaps your company has some good news to share and your boss thinks you are the best person to hold a news conference to get the word out. Or maybe your employer wants more of a social media presence and every executive has been told to start posting.
A good media training session will help you navigate both traditional and social media. So what can you learn?
- Learn about camera presence before you agree to a TV interview. For example, if the format is a “side-by-side” interview, look at your interviewer and not at the camera. Take note of how wide the camera shot is so you can size out your gesturing. Avoid wearing clothing with very fine lines that may appear wavy on camera.
- Learn to speak in “sound bites” if you plan to do broadcast interviews. Anyone can answer questions if there is an inordinate amount of time for responses. When you are limited to a three minute live interview, it is obvious you need to respond concisely and work in your messaging. You do not want to get cut off in mid-sentence because your response is too long for the medium.
- Learn how to work your voice. If you speak too rapidly, some of your messaging will be lost. Audiences are multi-tasking and if they have to struggle to catch what you are trying to say, they may not bother. You want to be enthusiastic about the topic but that doesn't mean you have to speak overly loud to get your point across. There are interview shows where guests are shouting and talking over one another. Do you really want to be a part of this type of program?
- Learn effective stalling techniques so you do not end up saying, “um” throughout the interview. If you need a couple seconds to come up with a cogent response you could begin by saying, “I’m glad you asked that question.”
- Learn social media best practices so you don't inadvertently embarrass your company. Some employees don't even know what their company's policy is regarding social media.
- Learn your media rights so you know how to respond if the media disparages you in its reporting.
- Learn to be a good story-teller. Readers, listeners and viewers respond well to stories they relate to. So go easy on the stats in interviews and make your points through stories.