5 MORE Critical Media Training Tips

Are you dishonest?

Don’t answer that, because it’s a common
ploy reporters use to trap spokespeople.

You’ll be tempted to address negative words associated with your name or company, but if you don’t know how to answer you will only make matters worse and reinforce the negativity the reporter implied.

If you or your company has done something to harm others, it will be in your best interest to admit that others have been hurt. People want to be heard and know you care. Listen carefully to what a reporter asks of you, respond and add whatever additional quotes and messages you want the journalist to report. Look the journalist in the eye when you answer, but don’t stare or be overpowering.

If the reporter’s questions cause your heart to race, take a slow deep breath and let it out slowly, but don’t sigh. Breathe normally, and keep breathing normally. Listen carefully to questions and be thoughtful in all responses.

5 more communication tips of value for spokespeople by Jeff Ansell

1. Don’t repeat negative words
2. Acknowledge the concerns of the other side
3. Be a good listener
4. Have good eye contact with the interviewer
5. Breathe to stay calm, focused, and in the present moment

Media Strategies Training


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5 TIPS to be a Better Speaker

5 Critical Media Training Tips

5 MORE Critical Media Training Tips

5 Critical TIPS for Spokespeople

5 Essential Tips for Spokespeople


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5 Critical Media Training Tips

It’s getting harder every day to be an effective spokesperson.

When speaking with a reporter be wary of common tricks they use to get you to say something you shouldn’t. If they ask a question and you don’t know the answer, don’t guess or pretend you know what you’re talking about. A journalist might also ask you a theoretical question, but don’t fall for it. It’s inevitably a trap.

Just because you don’t like the question doesn’t mean you can ignore it.
Refusing to answer makes a spokesperson look guilty.

Reporters are trained to be disarming, and they might make a spokesperson feel so comfortable that you think you’re talking to a friend. Everything you say, especially the very last question is fair game and can be used against you. Assume the video camera or recording device is on at all times, and be particularly wary of wireless microphones attached to your lapel. Muttering under your breath can be heard, and it counts. Just because the video camera is pointing away or to the ground doesn’t mean the reporter can’t hear you and won’t use the “sound bite!”

It’s OK to ask a journalist to repeat a question if you don’t understand it. They might ask it in a different way that makes it easier for you to answer, plus, while they are figuring out a way to rephrase the question for you, it buys you time to think.

5 Communication Tips from Jeff Ansell to help you be a better spokesperson;

  1. Don’t speculate or answer a hypothetical question
  2. Never say “No Comment!”
  3. There’s no such thing as “Off the Record”
  4. Presume you’re always being recorded
  5. Don’t answer a question you don’t fully understand
    *ask for clarification or rephrasing of the question

Practice News Interviews – Media Training Course


Here are the entire 25 TIPS
in our Media Training Series

5 TIPS to be a Better Speaker

5 Critical Media Training Tips

5 MORE Critical Media Training Tips

5 Critical TIPS for Spokespeople

5 Essential Tips for Spokespeople


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Trump vs. Clinton, and the winner is . . .

The Donald hasn’t tapped out, but a series of flip flop statements had viewers of the first presidential debate wondering what inaccuracies he might manufacture next.

The Toronto Star reported there were 34 Trump falsehoods declared in the debate, compared to Clinton’s four lies.

The first 2016 presidential debate is a good example of what it means to be trained and prepared in order to deliver a great speech and solid debate.

Donald Trump made a number of basic mistakes while debating Hillary Clinton. He was loud and evasive and couldn’t get his facts straight. When Clinton challenged Trump, and he didn’t have a reasonable answer or he was caught on the spot having to defend a ludicrous past statement, he simply turned up the volume of his voice and yelled over her.

In stark contrast, and even though she was sometimes just as evasive, Hillary stood her ground and waited patiently for him to fizzle out and sputter before she responded. When she was lost for words she rolled her eyes, and instead of answering Trump’s pointed questions about her past history, she deflected by dismissing him in a non sequitur-like manner.

He had an opportunity to capitalize on her weaknesses, but he doesn’t have strong enough speaking skills to think on his feet and turn it to his favor. He needs to learn to speak like a politician, and to turn down his sales pitch hyperbole.

Trump has a reputation for not preparing for speeches, and although it was clear he did some type of preparation for the first debate, it was just as clear he was mostly winging it as usual.

Clinton on the other hand, regardless of her answers acted more like an experienced politician, remaining relatively calm and not reacting to Trump’s cacophony of inflaming statements.

If anything, Hillary has been criticized for not showing her human side. She made an attempt at it by talking about her father, but she could have done more.

Trump, the immutable hot-headed reactionist, did little to calm worries that he is too much of a loose cannon hovering over the nuclear button.

It’s quite possible Trump did have some type of recent media and speaker training because for a very brief moment at the beginning of the debate he actually looked and sounded statesmen-like, but as soon as a hard question zipped across his bow he crumbled like a saltine cracker into hot soup and fell into his old “wrestling/boxing promoter” persona.

The reality is that viewers are way more impacted by how a speaker delivers their message than they are about the words used. Body language tells us a lot about a speaker. It telegraphs truth, nervousness, and confidence. A well trained speaker knows how to manage these traits effectively.

Famous research by Dr. Albert Morabian while at the University of California in Los Angeles explains it perfectly. He demonstrated that when you say something, 55% of the way your attitudes and emotions are interpreted comes from the way you use your body and your face when you say it.

38% of how you feel about what you say comes from the voice, tone, texture, and level of conviction.

Words account for only 7% of how your attitudes and emotions are interpreted.

When we speak, we have to juggle the visual, vocal, and verbal so that we can look like we mean what we say and say what we mean.

We need to say it like we mean it!

Viewers of the debate constantly received “subconscious” body language messages from Clinton and Trump, without realizing they were making decisions about the winner based mostly on what they saw and not what they heard. If you want to more easily decipher who wields more influence during a debate, turn the sound off and only use your eyes to decide the winner.

Instinctively, Trump knows that people respond better to emotion and not to dry statistical facts. He knows that when his level of exuberance goes up people pay more attention to the noise he makes. Unfortunately for Trump though, he put all his eggs into this one basket, which is not good enough for any speaker, especially a president.

Trump’s body language showed he was defeated. His shoulders were hunched, he kept leaning into the microphone, he was making strange faces and looking away. Hillary won the body language war too.

Some will no doubt argue that based on body language numbers alone, Trump would come out ahead, but he only gets the psychological nuance partially right. It can’t all be vacuous energy. There also has to be substance and that’s where Trump fell short. The basis of a statement has to be accurate and believable before you paint it with a confident series of body language intonation and facial modeling. There needs to be balance between your words and actions.

Pundits and viewers awarded Clinton a victory in the first round, which means Trump has to get a better handle on how to deliver a message more effectively in order to influence voters. If he’s smart and he really wants to win the next debate and the presidential race he’d be well advised to sit down with a media trainer and pay attention.

Watch more about BODY LANGUAGE from my short video

I recently hosted a series on lynda.com called “Communicating with Confidence”
Here’s a video on using your hands

Here’s what the NY Times Fact Checkers reported after the debate

RealTime Fact Checking DURING the debate …

Speaking & Presentations Skills Training

Media Strategies for Politicians, Public Servants, & Government Spokespersons

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25 Critical TIPS for Spokespeople

Over the next few weeks we are going to share
25 Critical TIPS for Spokespeople.

We’ll address a variety of topics and ways for spokespeople to talk to reporters.

Check in every week and learn about the traps journalists set for spokespeople.

Learn how to predict what a reporter will ask, and how to best answer.

Let’s get started!

It’s getting harder every day to be an effective media spokesperson. Newspaper reporters, broadcasters and online media have access to more and better investigative tools, plus, social media has made it almost impossible to hide behind your words.

Spokespeople can’t just show up anymore. You need a plan. It’s up to you as a spokesperson to be able to back up what you say with proof and not leave reporters wondering. Look for others to help back up the argument to your story, ideally specialists who will give your position credibility, but who do not have any connection to you.

It’s also important to not speak over anyone’s head just to sound wiser. Be concise when talking to a reporter and simplify your message. Even though it has to sound like the words are spontaneously rolling off your tongue, the reality is that you need to know exactly what you’re talking about and precisely what you want to say. The secret is to know your information inside out and backwards so you can relax and think clearly.

5 communication tips from Jeff Ansell to help you be a better spokesperson.

  1. Know what you want to say prior to media interviews
  2. Support your messages with facts
  3. Quote third party experts to support your case
  4. Use short, clear sentences
  5. Sound conversational

Media Strategies Training


Here are the entire 25 TIPS
in our Media Training Series

5 TIPS to be a Better Speaker

5 Critical Media Training Tips

5 MORE Critical Media Training Tips

5 Critical TIPS for Spokespeople

5 Essential Tips for Spokespeople



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Media Bias

Reporters and mainstream news media like to yap about how they are unbiased.

Don’t buy it for a second!

The latest example involves CBS News. Watch this clip to see how they edit out a word that Bill Clinton used when talking about how often Hillary is ill.

Bill Clinton’s original statement is at the beginning of the video, and the edited version that CBS broadcast is at the end …

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Situational Awareness for Spokespeople

Situational awareness is about being present in the moment and aware of events occurring around you that affect your circumstances. It is often attributed to physical activities, for example a quarterback has a sense for where everyone is on the field, or a bicycle rider has predictive awareness of what cars around her are doing.

Situational awareness also applies to intellectual situations, i.e., great reporters have excellent situational awareness, but it doesn’t just pertain to reporters.

Spokespeople also need situational awareness in order to predict where the interview is going when they stand in front of an investigative journalist’s camera and microphone.

You certainly can’t predict all the questions because that might be dangerous and lull you into complacency, but you need a sense of how you fit into the overall landscape. You need to predict not only what will be asked of you, but also how a reporter will respond to your answer and follow up with another question. The secret is to be prepared.

Spokespeople need well-honed skills in order to respond in the instant, keep their cool, and foresee danger signs that indicate they are being led to slaughter when they don’t responsibly and effectively manage the words that leave their lips.

Make one mistake and the headline is you.

The AP warned its reporters and staff to maintain situational awareness right after they broke the news on Twitter that Hillary Clinton was the Democratic Party’s “presumptive nominee.”

Bernie Sanders supporters were livid and lashed out at the AP, and when major news organizations quickly followed suit the wrath spread to other news companies. New York Times reporter Amy Chozick tweeted that Bernie Sanders supporters were going to “hunt her down in the streets.”

There is more to this story though than the presumptive nominee incident.

News media companies immediately started to question the AP about the validity of making such an announcement. Sour grapes? Maybe a bit, but speed is what news companies do in their rush to break the news. They take risk at someone else’s expense, and even their own. It’s all in a day’s work and has been going on from the very first “Extra! Extra! Read All About It” headline.

Today the “Extra Extra” is delivered through Twitter, but it’s the same premise of who gets there first, and that’s what makes it so dangerous for today’s spokespeople. When words leave your mouth they instantaneously show up on Twitter before you have a chance to take a second breath. News consumers no longer have to wait for the evening or morning edition. Your sound bite is immediate and impactful, so whatever you say, it had better represent you and your company in the manner of your intent.

The point is that news companies will take advantage when the opportunity presents itself, so don’t say anything that makes it easier. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Accuracy counts. Hone your media skills and practice before you jump or are pushed into the fray. You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.

The AP Warns Reporters and Staff to be Vigilant

AP reminds employees to be vigilant after backlash from Sanders supporters

Click to read about … News Companies Bickering

Media Strategies for Politicians & Public Servants

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Attacking News Media

If you think you can do what Donald Trump does and
attack representatives of the news media, think again.

Watch what news media does to Trump when he criticizes journalists.

When Bloomberg News anchor John Heilemann hears Trump admitting his own staff make mistakes, Heilemann reiterates a number of times that Trump’s staff is “stupid,” and he works hard to drive the point home that incorrect information isn’t flowing from journalists, but instead from Trump’s own team.

Heilemann repeats it over and over and gets his reporter in the field, Jennifer Jacobs, to confirm and repeat it too. It starts at about the 3 minute mark …

Heilemann literally says, “… Trump attacking his own staff for being stupid”

The moral of this media escapade,
“When Donald Trump goes after news media, they go after him.”

In the interview Trump said “… you guys [referring to news media] are getting sometimes stupid information from people that aren’t so smart [referring to his own staff].”

Bloomberg’s anchor picked up on it immediately and repeated it twice to make sure viewers knew Trump was calling his own people “stupid,” and then he kept repeating it to drive the point home. We got it the first time, but the news anchor was not going to let it go until the last person in the TV audience got it too.

Quite often in the heat of the moment we watch and sometimes cheer on the loudest noise in the room, but at the end of the day when we have a chance to reflect, we think, wow, that was pretty harsh and doesn’t make sense. Cruelty never does.

Ignoring news media is dangerous, criticizing them is reckless.

Most spokespeople can’t afford to do either.

Media TIPS

Media Strategies

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