ComPRehension

Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
April 16, 2008

Eliminate Your Fears of Speaking to the Media!


PRSA Workshop, Media Training, with T.J. Walker

Public speaking is the number one fear most people have. And talking to the media is a type of public speaking. I vividly remember the first time I was on TV—it nearly scared me to death! This fear causes us to behave in irrational, self-destructive ways. Most executives would never, in their wildest dreams, send out a new brochure to all of their clients without first writing several drafts, reviewing each one, spell checking it, editing it, getting feedback from colleagues, passing it by the legal department and finally placing it on a graphically designed logo or letterhead.

Yet these same executives will “wing it” when it comes to giving interviews on ABC’s 20/20 or to the New York Times. The results?

Disaster.

Even when the results are less than disastrous, the message and image that come through from the interview are often mixed of fuzzy. This does not have to be your destiny.

There is no greater secret weapon in business than to know how to persuade people of your ideas and mission via the media. You may already think of yourself as a good speaker or communicator. You might get standing ovations when you present.

Nice, but that is completely irrelevant when it comes to handling the media. A media interview is unlike any other conversation you have in your daily life. It is the only conversation where you have absolutely no control over the context of how your words will be presented to the final audience. I will teach you the tricks of the trade so that your message is so sharp, clear and memorable, it won’t matter what the media do with it!

You may be a polished platform performer. Again, totally irrelevant to how you will come across on TV. Television is not a hard medium to master, but if you don’t know the dozen most important secrets of that medium, you will come across as stiffer, fatter, less convincing and more monotone than you do in real life.

How do you know what to say to the media?

The first thing most executives do is consume valuable hour after hour brainstorming on every single question a reporter could ask. This is a complete waste of time.

I will teach you how to save time by focusing on that over which you have total control: the words and messages that come out of your mouth.

Unfortunately, when you are dealing with the media, having a simple, clear message isn’t good enough. When it comes to communicating on TV, you must have style AND substance. You can have the greatest message in the world, but if you are wearing the wrong tie or sitting improperly, no one will ever remember your message.

The real test of your media interview is this: did you get your message across, the exact sound bites or quotes that you planned in advance, and did you look and sound the way you wanted to?

Becoming an excellent media communicator is one of those things many people put off for another day—sort of like cleaning the garage or becoming a Black Belt. Sadly, this can have a deadly affect on your career—and you might not ever be made aware of it.

By T.J.Walker, president, Media Training Worldwide. He is “the leading media and presentation trainer in the world,” and “the #1 expert for executives seeking guidance on speaking to the public and media” according to quotes from Viacom and Bloomberg TV. T.J. has trained thousands of executives and government officials over the last 20 years.

Join Walker for his interactive webinar, Interactive Media Training: A New and Unique Way for You to Prepare for Your Next Media Appearance and for his on-site seminar, “Media Training Boot Camp: Control Your Message to Get the Quotes You Want,” on Monday, March 15, 2010 in New York, NY!

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