Following is an excerpt from the recent position paper, “Eleven Elements to Mold a Magnetic Message: How to Shape Your Story for the Press, Policymakers, and the Public.” We’ll discuss each of the Eleven Elements individually to help you get a better handle on each one. Today, let’s turn to Element Seven, Fortify.
“’When I use a word, ‘said Humpty Dumpty, in a rather scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less. – Lewis Carroll
There is no substitute for ongoing practice. Just as baseball players take swings in the batting cage before every game, the best media interview subjects and public speakers take practice seriously.
This preparation should occur both formally and informally. On a formal level, schedule regular communications training sessions with all of your spokespeople. Discuss your messaging to ensure they have internalized it. Then conduct a few practice rounds to confirm they can verbalize it. Your internal staff (assuming they have the wherewithal) can handle some of these sessions, though it is helpful to bring in an experienced communications training consultant on critical issues and for the occasional tune up.
Informally, look for popup practice opportunities. You don’t always need to devote the hours it takes to hold a formal training workshop. For instance, take those 10 minutes between meetings to review your message or develop a quotable quote for it. Toss questions at one another during random encounters around the water cooler. Develop quick-hitting scenarios you can accomplish via e-mail. For instance, pretend a reporter just called with a tough question; how would you use our message to respond?
The confidence gained during such exercises will help put some steel in your executives’ spines when it comes to broadcasting your message during media interviews, presentations, and exchanges with elected officials.
What other means of practice have you found especially valuable? Share your thoughts with The Media Training Blog community in the Comments section below.