One of the questions I sometimes hear as a communications training consultant is, “What does a media training workshop look like?” A sensible question since most people — including a surprising number of senior executives — have never committed the time it takes to sharpen their skills at dealing with the press.
So, let’s take a guided tour of your next media training. One caveat: Every one of your workshops should bear a distinct stamp that shapes the training to the specific needs of your company and its spokespeople. You work on the interview formats and message development needs that you will face in the real world. With that said, let’s drill down and answer some underlying questions:
Where does the workshop take place? Your training occurs wherever it is most convenient for you. It could be in your conference room, a hotel function room, or a meeting room at the site of your annual convention, for instance.
How many people are in the room? The best workshops allow for a high level of interactivity. That means one to three participants, your training consultant, a one or two person camera crew, and perhaps one or two of your senior public relations staff. If the room starts to get too full, experience shows that it is more difficult to keep discussions on track. In addition, the room can get stuffy and hot, which brings your spokespeople’s levels of energy and concentration way down.
How is the room set up? There will be tables and chairs for the participants, along with a flip chart or dry erase board for your consultant to record key ideas. A monitor allows everyone to review the video of each practice interview. My habit is to set aside portions of the room to conduct various types of interviews; some require additional seating areas, others are done in a stand up format. The camera crew also will have its gear set up in order to record the day’s proceedings.
What happens while we’re in the training room? Essentially, two things: 1) A focus on message development that not only helps you craft key messages, but empowers you with the tools to build additional messages in the future, and 2) a series of interactive exercises that gives you experience before the camera lens, the interviewer’s microphone, and the reporter’s notebook.
Is media training just a fancy lecture? It shouldn’t be. The best professional development efforts of this sort are interactive, with an emphasis on give and take. The best way to learn something is to experience it, so your spokespeople deserve lots of practice designed to sharpen interview skills.
When your media training ends, are you thrown to the wolves? Let’s hope not. I make it a point to remain available for individual follow up questions after a workshop and always leave participants with a path for enhancing their skills over time.
Do you still have questions about what a media training workshop looks like? Fire away in the comments section below so we can get a dialogue going.