Inspirational media training for effective spokespeople
Great spokespeople weren’t born that way. They mastered their art in media training. Every strong interview draws on a set of skills that can be taught, learned, practiced and perfected. ISOC media training builds exactly those skills through systematic and high-quality coaching.
The best interviewees are confident and engaging. They give interviews with high-value impact. They project expertise, and also inspire trust. They are polished, but also authentic. They are natural and likeable. They are convincing and memorable. They answer tough questions without being evasive. They stay calm under pressure.
Businesses invest in media training because spokespeople are the guardians of reputation, and reputation is a high-value financial asset. Only skilled spokespeople can deliver the right message consistently and make it stick. Only versatile spokespeople can excite stakeholders about everyday news – and reassure them in a crisis.
ISOC media training gets quick results
The ISOC media training model uses active learning with positive individual coaching, based on a systematic competency matrix. It has been refined through more than 5,000 media training sessions over more than 15 years. It works consistently and produces immediate results. You will see a measurable improvement in performance from beginning to end of session.
We are the world’s largest specialist communication training provider. We media train every day for multinational companies, international institutions, CEOs and government ministers – as well as small companies and PR agencies.
You can media train with ISOC as part of an open public course at our training centres in London and Dubai. You can also book a customised private media training programme for your organisation, delivered anywhere in the world. We train in all major languages.
Wherever in the world you train with ISOC, read on to find out how our media training methodology works and what to expect.
What you will learn in ISOC media training
- Understand the strategic impact of interviews for reputation.
- Evaluate and plan how to generate business value from an interview.
- Prepare effectively for an interview using a structured process.
- Draft strong messages, persuasive hard proof and memorable soft proof.
- Anticipate questions by analysing the journalist, media and news context.
- Build confidence through practice in a safe environment with encouraging feedback.
- Normalise interview situations so that you can relax and perform at your best.
- Familiarise with a variety of formats, styles and locations (TV, radio, print, online).
- Manage fear and nerves using proven techniques.
- Work with broadcast technology: microphones and cameras
- Improve body language (eye contact, posture, movement and gesture).
- Build self-awareness and eliminate distracting mannerisms.
- Improve voice with attention to pace, tone and volume.
- Raise your energy levels for a dynamic and engaging delivery.
- Use clear language at the right technical level for your audience (no jargon).
- Produce strong quotes and sound-bites.
- Use the three key modes: Explain Mode, Story Mode and Conversation
- Speak in facts and examples to be convincing and authoritative.
- Find news angles to make your message relevant to this particular audience.
- Understand how journalists think.
- Use bridging techniques to get to your messages.
- Be proactive: steer the interview – subtly – onto safe and productive topics.
- Stay in control of the agenda, direction and dynamics of an interview.
- Answer difficult questions using five universal strategies, without being evasive.
- Avoid common mistakes and pitfalls.
- Recognise crafty interviewing tricks and techniques.
- Handle aggressive journalists and confrontational questioning.
- Stay positive and calm under pressure.
How ISOC media training works: a session outline
1) Meet your trainers
A communication coach will lead the session, give expert feedback and learning points, and advise on how to support your organisation’s communication strategy. ISOC communication coaches are senior PR and media professionals with decades of experience advising and coaching at the highest levels of business and government, including prime ministers and royalty.
A training journalist will simulate realistic interviews and share insider secrets, tips and tricks that will help you understand how reporters think and work. ISOC training journalists are all seasoned interviewers with active or recent experience with the biggest names in the media, including BBC, Reuters, CNN, Dow Jones Newswires, Sky, Bloomberg, CNBC and most of the main international newspapers. Their professional fields range from specialist corporate, political and financial reporters to TV news anchors and foreign correspondents.
A technical team will operate the cameras, set up shots and lighting, and help you with microphones. It will be a highly realistic experience using a full set of broadcast-standard equipment to simulate both studio and on-location interviews.
2) First briefing: essential concepts
In the first of two briefings, your communication coach will cover the concepts and best practices that are central to every strong media interview. This section is brief – you will not sit through a long boring lecture. You will watch fresh and relevant video clips showing practical examples of good and bad performance. You will learn to:
- Position your ideas as strong messages
- Reinforce them with memorable examples and credible proof points
- Convince journalists of your news value
- Make the most of your voice and body language
- Work professionally with cameras and microphones
- Capitalise on opportunities and avoid common mistakes
3) Structured preparation
We will give you a personalised interview scenario written to simulate topics and situations that you are likely to face in real media encounters. Then while you wait your turn to be interviewed, we will guide you through a structured preparation process using worksheets to develop the ideas and resources that you will need, including messages, proof points, news angles and media insight.
4) First interview
When you feel ready, we will bring you through to the interview room, equipped with a full mobile studio set-up including broadcast-standard camera, sound and lights. You will give a brief interview lasting around three minutes. If this is your first time on camera, or you are feeling nervous, we will make it friendly and positive to help you familiarise, relax and perform to your full potential.
5) Feedback and coaching
Next, we will play back the interviews on a big screen. Your coach will pause the replay to give analysis and feedback, always positive and constructive, and always in the form of specific learning points that you can use to do better next time. We normally give feedback in a group session so that you can learn from each other and benefit from discussions.
6) Second briefing: advanced techniques
The second briefing covers best practice and techniques for difficult situations and challenging interviews. You will learn to:
- Answer tough questions without being evasive
- Deal with confrontational journalists
- Handle sensitive topics and crisis interviews
- Direct the interview agenda proactively
- Recognise and manage the subtle dynamics at play
7) More interview cycles
From now on, the session is purely practical. In a real interview, there is no time to reflect on theory: it must be internalised through practice so that you do the right thing instinctively. You will spend most of your media training session “learning by doing” in a series of simulated interviews with the training journalist. There are endless possibilities for scenarios; here are a few:
- An “expert commentator” interview on a live rolling news show
- A studio interview for a major news announcement or launch
- A profile interview with a national newspaper, with a video clip for its website
- A telephone interview with a correspondent for an international newswire
- A radio studio interview with a discussion programme on a talk radio station
- A pre-recorded on-location interview for a local TV news feature package
- An informal stand-up interview with a reporter covering a conference
- A live evening TV panel discussion on a “thought leadership” topic
- A “down-the-line” interview speaking direct to camera with an earpiece
- A crisis statement and Q&A session or news conference
Depending on the size of your group, you may have time for three or four scenarios. They will vary in topic, format and difficulty so that you are always stimulated and challenged, but never forced out of your comfort zone.
The subject matter will be familiar, realistic and based around your own knowledge and expertise. We recommend a mix of proactive topics (positive news or thought leadership) and reactive topics (problematic issues that require comment), since journalists will surely ask about both.
That’s it! At the end of the day the communication coach reviews key learning points for everyone and reminds each person of their individual action points. By this stage – without exception – we will have seen a measurable improvement in performance on camera, and everyone is feeling inspired and ready for the real thing.
You will take away a comprehensive media training manual, a set of checklists and reminder cards, and a copy of your interviews on a memory stick. The trainers will compile performance analysis reports and recommendations for HR and communication departments as required.
Call your local ISOC centre.
Get free advice and training ideas.
ISOC London: +44 (0) 207 250 4290
ISOC Dubai: +971 (0) 4 446 4824