Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Media Training Tips: Maximising Your Media Moment

By Thomas Murrell MBA, CSP, International Business Speaker

Media training prior to dealing with the media is essential for business leaders, executives and company spokespersons. Discover the insider secrets of media interview training in this article. If you want to perform better then these tips from our media relations training course will help you get your message across via the media.

Media training is a 'must do' professional development program for any serious leader or manager.

Media interview training provides you with the skills to effectively deal with the media.

Media relations training, with a specific focus on media presentation training for television can be seriously nerve wracking for first timers.

Here's why you should consider doing a media training course and some essential tips from our media skill training courses.

If you go to the archives of any commercial television station and pull out footage from a news bulletin from the 1960s and view that footage with a stopwatch, you will find the average length of the quote (known as a sound bite or news grab) from the person being interviewed for the story is around 60 seconds.

If you watch commercial television tonight with your stopwatch at the ready, and measure each sound bite or news grab, the average length will be seven seconds.

This is why its being called McNuggett News! Its quick, slick, fast and tasty, but not very satisfying.

There are three reasons for this shortening of length.

1. Increased competition for our ever diminishing attention spans,

2. Increased choice, noise and clutter in our lives, and

3. The merging of information and entertainment dressed up as news.

So how do you get your message across about a complex, detailed issue through the media in seven seconds?

Well, you need to work out your key message and deliver it flawlessly as a media friendly quotable quote.

Remember, you have only one chance to get it right. The professional TV news crews I work with are constantly telling me about people who ring them after the interview and say "can you come back, I forgot to say this and that?"

Of course, the media are so time poor and deadline driven they never come back.

So you only have one opportunity to maximise your media moment.

How do you do this, especially for TV? Here are my Top 10 Tips:

1. Dress Well.

In the powerful visual medium of television you will be judged by your appearance. Clothing patterns and colours will contribute to the impact of your on camera interview. Avoid clothes with lots of designs or patterns. A dark jacket (blue, black, charcoal or navy) with a white shirt/blouse always looks good on camera. Take your cue from what TV newsreaders are wearing. Heed my mother's advice: "it is better to pay the extra and buy one really good suit than have many of inferior quality."

2. Warm Up Your Voice.

Tiger Woods wouldn't go and play 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 Increased Energy.

Speak at a higher volume, range, tone and pitch than you would normally. Imagine having a conversation with someone and speaking at a slightly more animated level than you would normally.

4. Anchor Your Feet and Slow Deliberate Movements.

The more you move around the more your body language will distract from your message. Doing interviews standing, even radio interviews, will change your whole physiology and give your more energy and authority. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and firmly anchored to the ground. It is hard to sound credible standing on one foot.

At the book launch of Understanding Influence For Leaders At All Levels, I learnt from co-author Des Guilfoyle that slow, fluid and deliberate movements will give you more referent power, 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, even angry reporters will fire off questions at you quickly, like bullets spitting from a machinegun. Their speech patterns will be intense and fast. Do not get drawn into mirroring and matching these patterns. In these situations, take a breath and speak more slowly than the interviewer.

6. Memorise Your Three Key Points.

You must be able to deliver these flawlessly without reading notes. Firstly, write them down. Writing things down helps fix them in the mind and seeing them written down also helps. Then compose a visual picture of the actual words. Visually place them in the top left part of your brain. When remembering these points, look to the top left hand part of the brain and they will come to you instantly like magic.

In technical terms, brain experts have shown 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 dispersed in many separate parts of the left cerebral hemisphere (Source: The Odd Brain by Dr Stephen Juan, Harper Collins, 1998).

7. Never Say No Comment.

Journalists will believe 'where there is smoke there is fire'. Say no comment, but back this up with a valid reason.

8. Drink Plenty Of Water.

Keep hydrated and avoid caffeine and milk prior to an interview. Milk gums up your saliva glands leading to a dry mouth. This manifests itself in the common nervous habit of licking dry lips.

9. Get In The Moment.

Elite athletes talk about and practice getting in the zone to achieve peak performance. You need to do the same.

Try this: Relax, close your eyes and take three deep breaths, focussing on clearing your mind. Then visualise a moment in the past where you felt very motivated and very confident. Capture this moment in your mind and anchor those feelings. Place this mental picture inside your right hand and clench making a fist. Cover this fist with your left hand. Repeat this process until you can instantly put yourself into a state of peak performance.

10. Review, Evaluate and Improve.

After each media interview always review:

What worked well?

What could be improved?

What will I work on for next time?

Want media training? Look out for our next course near you here.

Thomas Murrell MBA CSP is an international business speaker, consultant and award-winning broadcaster. Media Motivators is his regular electronic magazine read by 7,000 professionals in 15 different countries. You can subscribe by visiting his website. Thomas can be contacted directly at +6189388 6888 and is available to speak to your conference, seminar or event.

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