How to be a great media spokesperson.

What’s the secret to being a great media spokesperson?

1. You need to be authentic.

2.  You need to be an expert on the topic.

3. You need to tell the truth!

It’s that simple.

When it comes time to talk to a journalist hopefully you will have prepared.  You will have constructed 3 or 4 key messages that will help get your point across succinctly and effectively.  Then, once the interview starts, you should feel confident enough to really trust yourself to speak from the heart.  Your key messages should just roll off the tongue and you should believe in what you’re saying.

If you are authentic your audience is more likely to engage with you.  Whilst they may not agree, if they trust you then it follows that they will listen and consider your point of view.

But beware of spinning the truth.  Audiences are more media savvy than ever and can detect a tall story from a mile away.

If you’ve made a mistake often the best way of minimizing more damage is by simply admitting the error and apologizing.  But apologize properly.  Don’t just utter the words.  Say “I’m sorry” like you really mean it.

As a great example of what NOT to do, take a look at the clip below, which features the former CEO of BP.  Note that this was just one of several media PR disasters that ultimately cost him his job.

BP CEO life back

More PowerPoint tips from Mediafriendly

My six year old daughter recently put together her first PowerPoint presentation for a school assignment!  Her topic was France and her slides included pictures of The Eiffel Tower, a pink poodle, a croissant and a castle.  She then diligently made some palm cards with notes of what she planned to say about each slide.  Brilliant!

If PowerPoint is simple enough for a six year old to use then why do so many presenters still make the same mistakes?

So many speakers read verbatim from their slides forgetting that their audience can also read!  Slides are not designed to carry paragraphs of information or even full sentences.  Ideally you should have no more than 4 bullet points per slide.

Another common mistake I see is moving quickly from one slide to the next without giving the audience time to play catch up.  If you want to engage your audience it’s important to check in with them.  Make sure they’re keeping up and that they’re processing and understaning the presentation.

The next time you make a PowerPoint presentation think about the following:

1. Have you overloaded your slides with too much information? Images, pictures and simple graphs are a great way of illustrating a point and can be more powerful and memorable than words.  But if you need to use words, try not to use more than 4 bullet points per slide.

2. Don’t rush the slide show.  Before changing slides try to set them up by introducing the concept on the next slide.  This will also help you transition more smoothly from one slide (or idea) to the next.

3. Show the slide and PAUSE.  Give you audience time to take in what they are seeing.

4.  Supplement the slide.  You should be giving your audience more information that what they can see or read.

Whilst my six year old still has alot of work to do on her “soft skills” (body language, voice projection, eye contact) she’s definitely on her way to understanding how to use PowerPoint effectively – and if she can do it, can’t you?




Rick Astley vs Melissa George. Beauty and the Beast (respectively)

Rick Astley, my favourite pop star from the late 80’s and early 90’s, is in Australia, poised to entertain hundreds of middle aged fans keen to tear up the dance floor one more time!  I interviewed Rick for Smash Hits magazine in what must have been 1990 or 1991!   I think (as I desperately try to dig up what is now a faded memory) the interview took place at the now defunct Sebel Hotel.  Rick arrived on time (unheard of for celebrities and pop stars) and was so polite it was almost ridiculous.  Clutching my tape recorder I was all ready to start my big interview when I realized the machine was out of batteries.  How embarrassing!  What happened next???  Rick of course nipped down to the corner shop and bought me some new batteries.  Wow what a guy.

It’s an interview I’ve never forgotten – I have absolutely no idea what we actually talked about but boy do I remember how NICE Mr Astley was.  His chivalry won him a gushing interview and a fan for life.

In stark contrast I read some of the comments actress Melissa George made recently on The Morning Show when asked to talk about her first acting role on Home and Away.  Here’s how Melissa responded:

“I don’t need credibility from my country any more, I just need them all to be quiet,” she said. “If they have nothing intelligent to say, please don’t speak to me any more. I’d rather be having a croissant and an espresso in Paris or walking my French bulldog in New York City.

“I’ve never spoken out about it because I have to be the loyal good Aussie, who goes away and comes home.
“But I’m a really hard-working woman and people have to respect me for what I’ve done … my next call will be to Home And Away to ask them to pay me because nobody does more promotion for that f … ing show than me.”

Read more:

Melissa as an FYI respect is earned.  You can’t demand it.  I have so much more I could say but a wise friend has counselled me against it.  Take note Melissa.  When you have nothing nice to say its perhaps a good time to be quiet.

PowerPoint Hints and Tips

Here’s a blog I was sent that has some great hints and tips on using PowerPoint effectively and efficiently. I’ve given you a tease and then provided the link to the entire article…………..

Think you know PowerPoint? Think again. There are so many different tips and tricks for using PowerPoint to give presentations, there’s just no way you know them all. That’s why we’ve gathered more than 70 different PowerPoint tips from the people who know it best: Microsoft, professional speakers, and geeks who make PowerPoint their business. Check out our list to find out how you can step up your PowerPoint game.

1. Learn PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts:

Keyboard shortcuts, like Shift+F5 to start a slide show, can help you save time and look more slick when delivering your presentation.

2. Use compelling graphics:

Instead of blocks of text, make a point to create graphics like charts that can grab your viewers’ attention.

3. But don’t overdo it on images:

Although images are great for interest and engagement, too many images can be distracting. Use images when they add important information or support your point.

4. Display information clearly:

Think design, not decoration. Make sure that you’re sharing complex information in a clear way.

5. Create a textured background:

By layering transparent images, you can create effects, including textured backgrounds.
For the entire article go to:

“off the record” interviews.

In Hollywood movies and even local TV drama you’ll often hear journalists asking questions “off the record”.  It’s presented as an opportunity to squeal on a bad boss or blow the whistle on a corrupt organisation.  In real life it’s more commonly used to get some background information or perhaps to give an interviewee the confidence to say a little more than he or she ordinarily would.

I think it’s a mistake to speak off the record.  Although most journalists will keep their word, some might be over ruled by their producer or editor and in extreme cases where the courts become involved journalists may have to decide if saving your bacon is worth a prison sentence!  (Also remember they are human beings and some human beings love to gossip.)

A safe rule of thumb is if you are uncomfortable with the idea of seeing the information in print, don’t share it.  Easy!

But if you do choose to go ahead with an off record interview I suggest the following:

1.  Only talk to journalists you have a good and ongoing relationship with.  They are less likely to burn you than someone you’ve just met.

2.  Check first with your communications team.  There maybe more to the story you don’t know about or a communications plan you are about to sabotage.

3.   Weigh up the pros and cons of speaking out.  Once you’ve disclosed information you can’t take it back.

Even if you aren’t specifically named, your identity maybe obvious to those in the know.


Media Training Tips: Preparing for a Crisis

It’s the plan you hope you’ll never need but one every business should have.  How to engage the media in the event of a crisis?

Whether it’s a product failure, a financial meltdown, a fatality in the workplace or a fire, everyone from receptionist through to CEO should understand their role, be aware of the chain of command and stick to it.

Perhaps the most important media training lesson has always been to act quickly in a crisis. However with the rise of social media, the pressure to keep ahead of twitter, Facebook, Youtube and other social media platforms has never been greater.  It’s very difficult to keep witnesses and staff quiet when everyone has a mobile phone in their pocket.

For example, pictures of the Hudson River crash in New York were posted on Youtube by members of the public before the airline was able to verify what had happened.

When things go bad the media develops an insatiable appetite for information.  Journalists want a villain, they want victims and they want regular information updates.  Silence sporns rumours that can ultimately become more damaging than the crisis itself.


  • Respond – quickly
  • Select your spokespeople carefully
  • Show you care for those affected
  • Offer reassurance
  • Explain what you are doing
  • Monitor the situation
  • Be consistent
  • Update the media regularly


Public speaking: Obama V Romney

The Second Presidential Debate

This is a really insightful blog by Ben Decker on the second debate between President Obama and his opponent Governor Romney.

As Ben points out, the two men went toe to toe, but in the heat of battle they forgot about their audience.   How was the audience (collectively and as individuals) going to benefit from what was said?

No matter how experienced or polished you might be as a speaker – the golden rule of great presenting I think lies in two parts.  Objective and audience.



Presentation tips: Controlling nerves

If you feel overwhelmed by butterflies before getting up to speak in public you’re not alone.  Surveys have shown that we’re more frightened of public speaking than we are of spiders, snakes and flying!

It’s taken me a long time to learn this but nerves are good. Nerves should give us comfort.  They mean that we are on our game.  A little bit of adrenalin means we can react faster.  We can think on our feet.

Ironically I now get nervous when I’m not nervous!  Complacency can be the devil when you are in the business of performing.  It will often mean that I will have forgotten an important piece of equipment or heaven forbid, that I’ve failed to prepare properly.

So the next time you feel a rush of nerves before a pitch, presentation or speech feel grateful.  Take comfort from those nerves and acknowledge them for what they really are.  A boost of energy that will help you focus, concentrate and perform at your best.

Media Training Tips: How to recover when you stumble

Julia Gillard’s recent stumble in India made headlines around the world, but it’s also an important lesson in media training.  When you’ve got a press pack following your every move it’s difficult to cover a fall like the one she had.   Sometimes s_it happens.  It’s how you recover that really counts and like a real trooper, Julia picked herself up, dusted herself off and carried on with grace and poise.

It’s a fact of life that sometimes we’ll slip up.   In our media training courses we  try to prepare for everything but occasionally a curve ball can come out of no where.

No one likes to be caught short but it’s how you recover that can really make the difference between a moment of ‘egg on face’ and a completely disastrous interview.

Just as Julia Gillard demonstrated – regaining your composure, remaining calm and even demonstrating some good humor will all help get the media opportunity back on track.



Media Coaching

If there was a media training hand book lesson #1 might read something like this:

1. Please ensure you know what you are talking about before agreeing to talk to a journalist.  Particularly someone as smart as Leigh Sales.

I tell my clients more than once in the media training sessions I run that you should never lie, fudge, guess or make stuff up!

Tony Abbott already features in my presentation on what not to do.  Now I have another great example.