Public speaking is a classic fear held by a large proportion of people, and for many this may only get worse when sat in front of a live TV camera.
If a representative from your company is set to speak to the media, they will of course need to come across as poised and professional (and to give a good impression in general).
To make sure they can do this, it’s an extremely good idea to prepare your spokesperson with a media training course. This will set them up to feel comfortable with the situation, to know what they can expect, and to have a sense of how to best conduct themselves in a television or radio interview scenario.
So what are some things you can do to prepare for a media appearance? In this article, we’re going to look at several techniques you can use to prime your spokesperson and get them ready for their big moment in the spotlight – and ensure they know just what to do to represent you in the best manner.
What Is Media Training?
A media training course is a kind of communications training that is designed to help individuals prepare for interviews or other appearances with television, radio or print outlets.
It primes them with knowledge and techniques to cover lots of potential problem areas, such as:
- What should they talk about and how should they stay on topic?
- How should they answer if they receive any difficult questions?
- What are some techniques for appearing professional and likeable on television?
Often, a media training program will incorporate ‘mock interviews’ to get the interviewee comfortable with the format and help them to relax around cameras and microphones.
This is all done to ensure that the spokesperson can relax on the day and can give a great impression. By the time they appear on the viewer’s TV screen, they will have already practiced numerous interview scenarios and will be comfortable enough to deal with whatever happens.
How To Prepare Your Spokesperson For A Media Appearance
When preparing for a media appearance, the first thing to get right is to really know your talking points and stick to them.
In order to have an impactful media appearance, you need to clarify your key messages and make sure they come across loud and clear. Your spokesperson shouldn’t go too far off topic and should try to make their points with precision. This is one area where a training course can help.
A television interview is a chance for the public to put a face to the brand, and with this in mind, it’s also vital that your spokesperson comes across as honest, credible, and likeable.
This means that they should always try to stick to the facts and not embellish the truth – and it also means that they shouldn’t make up a reply if the host asks them a question they don’t know how to answer.
Doing your homework
Before the interview, it’s a very good idea to research and plan for some of the likely questions your spokesperson will face (a good media training course will cover this).
This might include standard queries about the spokesperson, their role in the company, and their credentials for speaking on the given topic (as well as the salient points concerning the business itself).
It’s also advisable to think about the specific show they will be appearing on and the presenter they will be talking to. What kinds of things tend to get brought up on this programmed, and what does the host tend to respond well to?
It also helps if your representative will be able to back up their points with data and research, so it’s prudent to equip them with all the necessary facts and figures beforehand and to make sure they know them inside and out.
Steering The Conversation
Depending on the nature of the interview, the host may attempt to change the subject away from what your spokesperson wants to discuss. Sometimes, this may even be an attempt to bring up a controversial topic you would prefer not to address.
It may be tempting to want to shut this down and say “no comment”, but this is a really bad tactic. To the general public, this response sounds evasive and implies that a full answer would represent ‘bad PR’ for the company.
Instead, it’s much more effective to learn some strategies for steering the conversation naturally back towards a more desirable topic.
One classic technique taught on media training courses for doing this is known as ‘bridging’ (as it allows the speaker to bridge the gap between one topic and another). This might include the use of phrases such as:
- “That’s a good question, but the really important issue here is…”
- “I don’t have that information to hand, but what I can tell you is…”
- “I understand the concerns, but our research shows that…”
- “I’d need to look that up, but what I do know is…”
These bridging elements (and others) can allow your spokesperson to segue smoothly from a potential problem area back to more familiar territory – all the while giving the impression that they have fully acknowledged the interviewer’s question.
Showing Some Personality
Of course, your spokesperson can’t just get through a media appearance by repeating pre-prepared lines like a robot.
Part of the point of putting a spokesperson on TV is to allow the public to put a face to the brand name and create some human connection. More than ever before, people would much prefer to deal with a real person than a faceless corporate monolith – and you want them to see that your company is run by real people who care. If your spokesperson comes across as warm and likeable, so does your business.
So while it can be a good idea for your speaker to rehearse some lines and soundbites ahead of time, they won’t want to sound too stiff. They shouldn’t say things that don’t sound like them, and shouldn’t be afraid to be themselves (within the bounds of broadcast propriety, of course!).
A successful media appearance can make an enormous difference for the profile and credibility of your business.
And with the right training course for your spokesperson, you can make sure they are fully primed and ready for whatever the interviewer might throw at them.
If you need help with your spokesperson media training needs, consider using a broadcast PR agency for professional support.
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