The Media Training Bible
The Media Training Bible
"Journalists are accused of being lapdogs when they don't ask the hard questions, but then accused of being rude when they do. Good thing we have tough hides."
- Gwen Ifill, Journalist
Every day, I receive phone calls from potential new clients seeking media training.
When I ask what concerns prompted their calls, they almost always say the same things: "We're not good at getting our messages across," or, "I tend to say too much, and I'm afraid the audience isn't getting my point," or, "I'm terrified of going on television, but it's my responsibility as the executive director to do so."
Toward the end of the conversation, many callers ask - often skeptically - whether we can help. They wonder whether a day of media training can truly make them feel more confident and in control during an interview.
I often ask the callers to rate their media skills on a scale of 1 to 10. If they score themselves a 5, I tell them they can become a 7 in just one day of training. Our clients regularly leap a couple of notches in just a few hours simply by learning how to identify and focus on the areas that most impede their effectiveness. By removing their own roadblocks, budding spokespersons experience noticeable, often dramatic, and occasionally shocking growth.
My goal for this book is to help you achieve the same growth without me being there in person (and for thousands of dollars less than we charge our private clients). You really can go from a 5 to a 7 - or whatever your equivalent - simply by reading this book. And I wouldn't be surprised if you jumped more than two notches, but I'd rather under-promise and over-deliver.
Almost everyone we work with has the capacity to improve, no matter how great their challenges. It's true that some people are born with the tremendous gift of being captivating communicators, but that's not the case for most people you see on television. They blew an interview or two early on and suffered a few media missteps along the way. But they stuck with it, nurtured their communications skills, adjusted their approaches, and improved over time.
You can too.
Great spokespersons know that it doesn't matter if you stumble over a few words once in a while or lose your train of thought on occasion. You don't have to be perfect - in fact, the public often regards "perfect" spokespersons as slick and inauthentic. If you're a perfectionist, I'm going to ask you to try your hardest to abandon your perfectionism - it will only get in your way and inhibit your most effective self from stepping forward.
You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that you already share some traits with the world's most gifted spokespersons. Most of the greats, regardless of personal style, ideology, or cause, have the following six traits in common:
First, they're authentic. The audience may not agree with their perspectives, but viewers can tell that the spokespersons genuinely believe in their own messages.
Second, they're natural. The best spokespersons are the ones the public perceives as being the same person on camera as off, the same in a television studio as in their living room. They're the spokespersons who bring the same passion to their interviews that they express privately when discussing similar topics with their friends.
Third, they're flexible. They know that breaking news, technical issues, or a shifting storyline can change the nature of their interview with little notice. They know that rolling with the changes, maintaining their composure, and displaying a touch of humor - where appropriate - will enhance th