Media training is a ‘must have’ professional development program for any serious leader or manager.
Media interview training gives you the skills to deal with the media effectively.
Media relations training, with a specific focus on television media presentation training, can be very stressful for beginners.
Here’s why you should consider taking a media training course and some essential tips from our media skills training courses.
If you go to the archives of any commercial TV station and pull footage from a 1960s news bulletin and view those footage with a stopwatch, you’ll find the average length of the quote (known as a sound bite or news catch) of the person interviewed for the story is about 60 seconds.
If you watch commercial TV tonight with your stopwatch at the ready and time each sound bite or news clip, the average duration will be seven seconds.
That’s why it’s called the McNuggett News! It’s fast, slick, fast, and tasty, but not very satisfying.
There are three reasons for this shortening of the length.
1. Increased competition for our shrinking attention span,
2. More choice, noise and clutter in our lives, and
3. The fusion of information and entertainment disguised as news.
So how do you get your message across a complex and detailed topic across the media in seven seconds?
Well, you need to craft your key message and deliver it seamlessly as a media-friendly quotable quote.
Remember, you only get one chance to get it right. Professional TV news crews I work with constantly tell me about people calling them after the interview and saying “can you come back, I forgot to say this and that?”
Of course, the media is so strapped for time and so obsessed with deadlines that they never come back.
Therefore, you only get one chance to maximize your media moment.
How do you do this, especially for television? Here are my top 10 tips:
1. Dress well.
In the powerful visual medium of television you will be judged on your appearance. Patterns and colors of clothing will add to the impact of your on-camera interview. Avoid clothing with lots of patterns or patterns. A dark jacket (blue, black, charcoal, or navy blue) with a white shirt/blouse always looks good on camera. Take a cue from what TV news readers wear. Heed my mother’s advice: “It’s better to pay the extra and buy a really good suit than to have a lot of inferior ones.”
2. Warm up your voice.
Tiger Woods wouldn’t go into a championship round of golf without warming up. You, as a professional communicator and official spokesperson, should never engage with the media without warming up your voice.
3. Speak with greater energy.
Speak at a higher volume, range, pitch, and pitch than you normally would. Imagine having a conversation with someone and speaking on a slightly more animated level than you normally would.
4. Anchor your feet and slow, deliberate movements.
The more you move, the more your body language will distract from your message. Doing stand-up interviews, even radio interviews, will change your entire physiology and give you more energy and authority. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and firmly anchored to the ground. It’s hard to sound credible standing on one foot.
At the launch of the book Understanding Influence for Leaders at All Levels, I learned from co-author Des Guilfoyle that slow, fluid, deliberate movements will give you more power of reference, charisma, and personal magnetism.
TIP: Watch your interviews with the sound off to get a better idea of what your body language is doing in the interview.
5. Keep calm.
Assertive, aggressive, and even angry reporters will fire questions at you quickly, like bullets fired from a machine gun. Your speech patterns will be intense and rapid. Do not get carried away with the reflection and combination of these patterns. In these situations, breathe and speak more slowly than the interviewer.
6. Memorize your three key points.
You should be able to deliver them smoothly without reading notes. First, write them down. Writing things down helps fix them in your mind and seeing them written down also helps. Then compose a visual image of the actual words. Visually place them in the upper left part of your brain. As you remember these points, look to the top left of the brain and they will instantly appear like magic.
In technical terms, brain experts have shown that the left side of the prefrontal cortex (just behind the forehead) experiences increased blood flow as new information enters our episodic memory. In fact, the brain’s thesaurus is scattered over many separate parts of the left cerebral hemisphere (Source: The Odd Brain by Dr. Stephen Juan, HarperCollins, 1998).
7. Never say no comment.
Journalists will believe ‘where there is smoke there is fire’. Don’t comment, but back this up with a valid reason.
8. Drink plenty of water.
Stay hydrated and avoid caffeine and milk before an interview. Milk clogs the salivary glands and causes dry mouth. This manifests itself in the common nervous habit of licking dry lips.
9. Live in the moment.
Elite athletes discuss and practice how to get in the zone for peak performance. You need to do the same.
Try this: Relax, close your eyes, and take three deep breaths, focusing on clearing your mind. Then visualize a time in the past when you felt highly motivated and confident. Capture this moment in your mind and anchor those feelings. Place this mental image into your right hand and fire into a fist. Cover this fist with your left hand. Repeat this process until you can instantly put yourself in a state of maximum performance.
10. Review, Evaluate and Improve.
After each media interview, always review:
What worked well?
What could be improved?
What will I work on next time?