Communicating under pressure is the name of the game when it comes to media training. However the skills you learn can help you perform better in a range of other situations where you don’t want to make a fool of yourself in public.
Think challenging meetings, important pitches, presentations to investors or venture capitalists, fundraising roadshows, even your next job interview.
Preparation is the first step towards a polished performance.
Take some time to consider the key messages you’d like to deliver and who your audience is. Think about how to explain your ideas in a simple, easy-to-understand way. Practise your pitch to minimise or eliminate any ums, ahs and other vocal ticks.
A good performance also requires you to speak in a simple, straightforward way, without jargon. Stay calm if the questioning is intense; be energetic and enthusiastic if it is more relaxed.
Media training also provides you with practice in using bridging phrases that help you regain control and get your key messages across if a line of questioning takes you away from your preferred area.
- The point I’m trying to make is …
- What we see as a more important issue is …
- The real question is …
- Let me put that another way …
It’s worth noting that a bridging phrase should not be seen as a get-out-of-jail-free card in terms of answering the question (as our frustration with politicians demonstrates).
Nor should bridging be used for its own sake. If you can provide a direct, positive and simple answer to the question, then do so.
Another approach is to reframe the question mentally, from one that’s a negative to a positive. For example, if asked why your product is so expensive, you could talk about the value it provides and any subsidies available to students, the elderly, etc.
As the saying goes, a picture paints a thousand words. It’s always worth considering the picture you present.
In terms of dress, a blue shirt communicates trustworthiness and honesty, while a white shirt and dark suit communicates authority.
You can also become more aware of your body language and tone of voice when confronted in media training with a video of yourself in action.
Finally, in media training, I always encourage people to consider the background against which they’re speaking, both the immediate physical background and the situation more generally.
You don’t want to be pitching your business’s growth and success while giving an investor a tour of a near-empty office. And, as the federal government recently discovered, flying staff to Paris to discuss ways of saving money is not a good look.