Communication Training Tips

Media interviews can be nerve-wracking, even for seasoned professionals. Whether you’re a business leader, a public figure, or an expert in your field, how you come across in the media can significantly impact your reputation and credibility. That’s why media training is essential for anyone who wants to succeed in today’s media-driven world.

Let’s explore some practical media training tips that can help you avoid panic and divert questions designed to corner you or break company policies.

What is communications training?

Communications training, also called Media training, is coaching that helps individuals develop the skills and confidence needed to communicate messaging to the media and other audiences effectively. The training is offered by individuals who understand the ins and outs of the media and have extensive experience in broadcasting and journalism. 

The training sessions involve instructions on better handling different interview opportunities for radio and TV interviews, online and print news, podcasts, and social media. Individuals learn message control and staying on topic throughout an interview.

They also get to learn how to anticipate challenging questions and deliver appropriate responses. Some pieces of training take it a notch higher and dive into using tone of voice and body language to exude credibility and confidence.

Why is communications training so important?

Communications training is critical to ensuring that you control the message and narrative. It only takes one unexpected question answered wrongly to throw the conversation off track and land you in media trouble. Knowing how to handle the pressure and guide the direction of the interview is crucial.

Aside from communicating effectively and handling the pressure like a boss, media training can help you build interviewing confidence and credibility before your viewers. And even when you don’t want to answer a question as asked, our practice interviews will help you deflect without appearing cagey.

Finally, media training gives personalities a safe, non-public space where they can practice and develop strategies and skills in media communication.

Components of communications training

Different training programs have different objectives depending on the needs of an individual or company. Below are some general components we include:

  • How to prepare and respond to questions on varied media platforms
  • Supporting claims and general responses with figures and facts
  • Anticipating tricky questions and prepare how to answer them
  • How to respond to questions touching on privileged or proprietary information
  • Responding to a question you don’t know the answer to
  • How to transition an interview to discuss company objectives
  • Communicating the company’s message
  • Responding to a statement you disagree with
  • How to assess the success of an interview
  • Participating in recorded interview drills and reviewing them later for improvement
  • What you should wear to an interview and how to project effective body language

Who needs communications training?

Media training can benefit anyone communicating with the media or other audiences on behalf of companies, organizations, and brands. These individuals include:

  • Business leaders
  • Public figures like politicians and celebrities
  • Field experts
  • Spokespeople
  • Non-profit organizations

These people interact with the media or participate in public speaking events and can benefit from this spokesperson training. Media training can help them effectively communicate their company’s message, handle tough questions, and establish themselves as thought leaders.

Communication training tips

Below are some tips and tricks to help you walk into an interview prepared with your best foot forward.

Know your message

Before stepping in front of the camera or microphone, you must know what to say. What’s your core message? What are the main points you want to get across? Think about your audience and what they want to hear. If unsure, ask the interviewer what topics they plan to cover.

Your message could fall into any of these four categories:

  • Fact and result – you give the audience a hard fact followed by its consequences.
  • Problem and solution – you present a known or unknown problem and furnish the audience with a solution.
  • Advocacy and call to action – you’re calling upon the public to get involved in your cause
  • Benefits – this is when you’re trying to get the audience to buy a service or product or invest in your cause.

Knowing your message in advance will help you stay focused and on-topic and anticipate questions. This way, you aren’t ambushed. That said, remember the media might not be interested in the same things you are, so it’s key to be clear and concise when conveying your message.

Practice, practice, practice

Practice makes perfect, and that’s especially true when it comes to media interviews. Find a friend or colleague who can play the role of the interviewer and practice your responses. Use a video camera to record yourself and watch the playback to see how you come across.

Pay special attention to your body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions as they convey your feelings. Do you appear confident and relaxed or nervous and fidgety? Practice your communication style until you feel comfortable and confident.

You don’t have to memorize the questions and answers; instead, learn the key message and be prepared to express it in different contexts. This will help you sound natural and present yourself as a thoughtful leader.

Be yourself

The worst mistake you can make in a media interview is being someone you’re not. Avoid being too slick or polished. Be yourself and let your personality shine through. Authenticity is essential in building trust and credibility with your audience.

Stay on message

During the interview, it’s easy to get sidetracked or off-topic. That’s why it’s essential to stay on message. If the interviewer asks a question irrelevant to your key message, try to steer the conversation back to your main points. Use transitional phrases like “That’s a great question, but what’s really important to understand is…” to help guide the conversation back to your message.

Be prepared for difficult questions

Media interviews can be unpredictable, and you never know what questions the interviewer might ask (even if they furnished you with questions beforehand). Be prepared for difficult or unexpected questions by researching and anticipating potential issues.

Practice responding to tough questions with grace and confidence. If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s okay to say so. Just be honest and offer to follow up with additional information later.

Dress appropriately

Your appearance can significantly impact how you’re perceived in the media. Dress for the occasion and the audience. If you’re unsure what’s appropriate, ask the interviewer beforehand. Avoid distracting patterns or jewelry that might draw attention away from your message.

Stay calm and confident

Finally, remember to stay calm and confident during the interview. Take a deep breath, smile, and relax. Speak clearly and confidently and maintain eye contact with the interviewer. Remember, you’re an expert and have valuable insights to share. Believe in yourself and your message, and the audience will too.

Read the audience’s body language

If the interviewer sounds or looks confused, ask if there’s anything they’d like clarified. The interviewer may be stuck planning their storyline, or they might not have understood your message. Checking with them ensures your message is home.

If there’s a live audience, gauge their engagement. Do they look interested, or are they confused and bored and cannot wait for the next guest?

Final thoughts

Remember, media training isn’t an event but a process. You’ll not transform into the perfect spokesperson overnight. However, with patience and practice, your skills will improve, and you’ll be more comfortable in front of the camera and audience.

Remember to be authentic and smile as you have fun. Emerson Street Media can guide you through the stages and ensure you communicate your message effectively.

image of two women in communications training