By Janna Dawson
In his book “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell popularized the idea that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice was the “the magic number of greatness” to become world-class in any field. He suggests that 10,000 hours of practice was even key to The Beatles’ success.
Believe it or not, the same philosophy can be applied to media training. By practicing your message, bridging to a new point and anticipating even the most challenging questions, you have the power to turn any interview into an on-message Abbey Road.
Whether practicing in-person (at a safe distance) or virtually, media training can help spokespeople master these four tried-and-true principles for navigating media interviews with confidence and composure.
1. It’s a presentation, not a conversation.
An interview with a journalist is not the same as a leisurely chat with a neighbor or casual coffee with a friend. This mindset can distract you or cause you to lose sight of the real purpose of an interview. Remain focused and remember that you are there to convey specific messages regardless of the questions being asked.
2. Deliver messages. Don’t just answer the question.
Remain focused on your core messages to turn every response back to the conversation you want to have. Make sure your messages are simple, clear, distinct and backed up by plenty of statistics, facts, relevant stories and personal examples.
3. Build the bridge.
Bridging is an interview technique intended to redirect the conversation — moving you from distress to success. Use phrases like, “The real question is…” or “What that brings to mind is…” to transition toward the point you want to make.
4. Speak in headlines.
To increase the likelihood of being quoted, offer your conclusion first, briefly and directly, and then back it up with supporting facts or detail. As you do this, remember the role of the media and make an effort to contextualize your headlines in light of other major news of the day. By customizing your messages for the situation, you can increase your relevance and newsworthiness.
As 2020 continues to catapult leaders into the spotlight, requiring swift responses and steady reassurance in the midst of a tumultuous year, even the most seasoned spokespeople can benefit from a little extra practice now and then. Do you think Paul, John, George and Ringo stopped practicing after the White Album?
Our team of experienced PR professionals and media experts have trained leaders at all levels and would be glad to prepare a customized session tailored to your needs. Contact us today to discuss how we can partner with you.