We often find during our media training workshops that participants are reluctant to read entire statements during mock media news briefings. Our participants worry that reading a statement, rather than ad-libbing one, makes them appear wooden and insincere. Our response sometimes surprises them. We believe a spokesperson can project sincerity, credibility, and competence when reading a statement.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby provides a great example. Kirby, a retired rear admiral, regularly briefs Pentagon reporters and doesn’t fear reading his initial statement practically word for word. In the clip below, Kirby authoritatively reads a statement on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Watch how he still manages to make some eye contact with reporters and uses gestures to emphasize key points.
Kirby projects strength and command of his material while reading and so can you. But it just doesn’t happen without planning and preparation. If you’re going to read a statement, rehearse it multiple times, out loud, in front of a mirror if possible. Make it easy to read. Don’t use a scribbled, hand-written statement. We recommend you type it in 20-point font, double spaced. So, don’t be reluctant to read a statement to the media. Just make certain you’re prepared and rehearsed. You can do this!