With 25 years of communications consulting under our belt at CommCore, we get a lot of the same questions about the need for executive media or presentation training. Our top questions:
Q: Our CEO has been conducting media interviews and making public appearances for years. He doesn’t think he needs any training. What do I say to get him agree to brush up on his skills?
A: Tell him people who are at the top of their profession stay there because they practice. Top tier actors have coaches. No. 1-ranked athletes have coaches. Successful politicians have coaches. (http://bit.ly/gyJvYn). Communications skills are generally viewed as one of the top attributes of a strong leader, especially in the realm of “difficult conversations.” (http://bit.ly/elxG3j). Anyone who is really good at what they do is always looking to learn one more thing that will keep them at the top of their game. Just about every executive we have media or presentation-trained who walked in reluctantly has walked out afterward saying they were glad they did it.
Q: Do we really need to schedule our executive team for a half day or a full day of media or presentation training?
A: Ideally, yes. But if reality intrudes, a lot can get done in an hour or two, particularly if they have had prior media or presentation training. The longer session allows for actual teaching, learning how to use take-away tools, and more on-camera practice and critique. The second rehearsal is really when the lessons sink in. The shorter, brush up session really only works for “drill-and-grill” preparation for a particular interview on a particular subject.
Q: Do I really need on-camera practice and critique? I won’t be doing any broadcast interviews or speeches.
A: Seeing and hearing yourself is an essential part of communications training. For example, even if you will be conducting a telephone interview with a print reporter or radio station, your posture affects how you sound. Uhms and aahs bore live audiences, and in the case of an interview, distract the questioner from noting your salient points. During a speech, non-verbal appearance is as important – if not more important – than what you say. And on-camera practice and critique demonstrate to you how you have improved in one training session. We strongly advise on-camera training.
Q: Our spokesperson has her message points down. Do we really need to spend time working with her on messaging during the media or presentation training?
A: There are messages, and then there are messages. For credibility and the answer to the 5 Ws some message are the critical data and information that a reporter needs. What often occurs during a training session is the development of the anecdotes, stories and analogies that are bound to be the quotes and/or frame the story. Part of good communications training involves “translating” your messaging and data points into informative, illustrative, “visual” sound bites that resonate with your audience while addressing the issues they care about.
Q: A reporter will recognize when I’ve been media trained. Won’t that harm my credibility?
A: No, to the contrary. Reporters want a spokesperson who is articulate, knows his/her stuff and can help a reporter with their story.
What questions do you get most often about media and presentation training, and how do you respond?