“That’s not what I meant!” “That’s not what I said!” “That’s not what I meant to say!”
In the media, it never matters what you meant to say. All that matters is what you say, especially if you’re being recorded saying it. As an executive, the things you say could hurt your company and cost it thousands – if not millions – of dollars. That’s why media training for executives is not only a good idea – it’s a must for any CEO who talks with the media.
Think about it this way – you’ve spent many years studying, learning, and climbing up the ladder to become your company’s executive. It’s safe to say you know just about everything there is to know about your company. The reporter interviewing you has spent years studying journalism and, while most good journalists aren’t going to come at you with “gotcha” question, they know how to ask questions and follow ups that you might not be prepared to answer.
And that’s not a position you want to be in – especially when the wrong answer could sink your company. Here are five reasons why media training for executives is a must.
Media Training for Executives Teaches You How to Speak
You know what you’re going to say, but do you know how you’re going to say it? Therein lies the challenge. As an executive, you can have your speech, talking points, and everything else typed up and ready to go on a sheet of paper or a notecard, but if you don’t know how to express what is written, it’s not going to go well for you.
Media training for executives teaches you the best way to handle yourself during an interview. From simple things – stand up straight, speak with authority, yet sincerity, don’t chew gum – to more complex things, such as breathing techniques, how to avoid stuttering, and more, training is the key to mastering good communication habits.
Media Training for Executives Helps You Develop Responses to Difficult Questions
It’s a fine line between being properly prepared, and making it obvious to the reporter and everyone around you that what you are about to say is rehearsed and disingenuous.
Canned responses can be tricky. You want to be able to have something available to say if you do get hit with a question you’re not prepared to answer, but you don’t want it to come across as flimsy or ill-conceived. This is where media training comes into play.
Media training for executives helps you prepare to bridge back to your message when you’re hit with a difficult question. This way, you won’t have to worry about sounding like you’re stalling, trying to think up something to say – you’ll be the one influencing the flow of the conversation.
Media Training for Executives Helps You Learn to Control the Interview
And speaking of that, success with the news media is about control. It’s about making happen what you want to happen, rather than hoping it will happen by itself. Put another way, success with a reporter is about recognizing that there ought to be two agendas – the reporter’s and yours.
Although one form of control you’ll never have is the power of editing, if you have a powerful message and package it in ways reporters want it, chances are it will appear in what they print or broadcast.
Most reporters will go into an interview with a list of questions already prepared to ask. They are skilled, however, in listening to your responses and steering the interview in a way that might make you a little uneasy. The more uneasy you get, the more likely you’ll let something slip you shouldn’t, thereby giving them the soundbite they want.
Media training can help you steer the interview back into your favor. With plenty of mock interviews, you’ll learn the best ways of how to conduct yourself during the interview.
Media Training for Executives Helps Define Your Messages
Before an interview, you probably have a lot of things you want to say – things about your company, about what your company is doing, and even about yourself. What you need to understand, though, is that the interview will only be so long, and if it’s for TV, you’re probably only going to get a few sentences of the entire interview aired.
That might sound disheartening, but it’s the truth. A reporter will take what you’ve said in the interview, whittle it down to just a couple of minutes, and throw in a few words from you as a sound bite. Hopefully, you didn’t waste your time saying, “The company is doing OK, I guess.”
Media training is a way to help you take all of these things you want to say, and condense them into short clips and soundbites journalists love. This way, you can stay focused on what you want to say and still get your point across.
Media Training for Executives Makes It Less Likely You’ll Get Misquoted
This is where you’ll hear most executives say, “That’s not what I said!” or “That’s not what I meant!” Executives get misquoted all of the time. And while most good journalists won’t take what you say out of context, there are some who might.
Say what you mean and mean what you say. With media training, you learn to do exactly that, and you’ll be much less likely to get misquoted in any story.
The Ammerman Team is Here to Train You
If you’re not fully prepared to talk with the media, it can be hard. It’s not easy – there are many, many videos on YouTube of floundering interviewees that show you just that. You can’t help it if sitting down for an interview makes you uncomfortable. What you can help, however, is whether or not you have the communication skills to succeed.
At the Ammerman Experience, we have more than 40 years of experience working with executives just like you. Our interactive training will help you become more competent and confident when dealing with the news media.
If you want to be the best executive you can be, reach out to the Ammerman Experience today. Let us help you learn the tricks of the trade when it comes to media training.