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Media Training: Connecting with your audience

  April 10, 2024

Industry jargon is a shortcut when you are communicating with your colleagues.  But it's a sure-fire way to confuse people outside your industry.  This is especially true when doing media interviews.  The public may very well be interested in your topic, but if you use terms they don't fully understand, they start to tune you out. Most of us spend so much time communicating with coworkers that we don't even realize we are using insiders' language. You'll be wearing a different hat for media interviews and need to learn how to communicate with a general audience.  A media trainer can help you craft your story.  Then it's time to practice with friends who don't know your business.  Make them understand your messaging before tackling a media interview.

Taking a complex topic and making it simple is no easy task--especially within the constraints of a short TV interview.  Physicians and scientists sometimes struggle with this.  To me, the best TV doctors don't need to demonstrate how smart they are by talking above the heads of their audience.  Instead they demonstrate their knowledge by communicating in a manner that viewers can relate to.

Some attorneys use too much legalese in media interviews.  It's a given that most viewers have not gone to law school.  Sure they've picked up legal terms watching "Law and Order" and the like.  But to really reach them, a lawyer needs to find a way around legalese.

While you don't want to talk over viewers' heads, neither should you talk down to them.  You aren't speaking to children, just to regular people who don't share your expertise.  You'll be a highly sought after and valued on-air guest, by learning to communicate somewhere in the middle.  

General assignment reporters who interview you for their stories often will not have expertise in your given field.  That's why they need you to help them explain the story to their followers, readers, listeners and viewers.  This can be a time for you to shine.  

Who wasn't fascinated by  the solar eclipse this week? If social media posts and traditional media coverage are a good measure, then most everyone was.  Astronomy experts popped up across platforms to tell us what to expect.  As a non-scientific type, I appreciated how most communicated in basic terms that I could relate to.

Whether you are presenting in the boardroom, speaking at an event, or being interviewed by a journalist; your goal is it get your message across.  That begins by connecting with that audience.  And it's not just what you say, but also how you communicate non-verbally.  If you fidget, that's a distraction.  If you wear flashy clothes and jewelry, that can also take focus off your true messaging.  You may also be judged on how you sit or stand.  My advice is to work with a communications' professional and practice on-camera so you can see yourself as others see you.


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