Authors & Speakers Network Blog with Larry James

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

How Talking to the Media is Like Giving a Speech And… How It’s Not!

Marsha Friedman, Guest Author

I recently traveled to Toronto to speak at a conference for business and professional women. It was an exciting event with women from varied backgrounds speaking on a range of topics designed to inspire and empower the attendees.

In preparing my talking points, I thought long and hard about which elements of my knowledge and experience would most benefit this audience. What did I want them to take away from their 45 minutes with me?

mediaIn that regard, preparing for a speech is in many ways like preparing for a radio, TV or print interview, or developing content for social media. You need to know your audience, and you need to think about what they’ll take away from listening to (or reading) what you have to say. Those take-aways should be information that holds a lot of value – not for you, but for them.

There are also a number of differences between a speech delivered directly to your audience, and talking to your audience via the media. Some, of course, are obvious. But others may not have occurred to you.

Here are a few:

For TV and radio:

Less time equals fewer “bullet points”: Occasionally, you’ll get a 30-minute or even an hour-long interview, but more often, you’ll have just a few minutes to make your points. So keep it simple! What two to three take-aways will reflect your message and benefit your listeners?

I talk to many people who have a difficult time distilling their “story” into seconds-long sound bites. If you’re like them, banish the “story” idea entirely. Instead, ask yourself, “Why is my message so important to me?” The answer to that is usually, “Because I know it can help solve a problem for others.” Now, tease out two to three points that can at least begin to help people solve that problem.

An interview is a conversation: Unlike speaking directly to an audience, when you’re talking via a talk show host it’s important to focus on engaging him or her. Do that, and you’ll engage the audience. For radio, have your take-always written down and placed where you can see them, just in case. (You won’t have that option for TV.) If the host asks a question that steers the conversation away from the points you want to make, answer it, but then steer the interview back to your message.

Remember, your interview may be edited: If your interview is not aired live, there are any number of reasons why portions might be edited out. Most of the time it’s because they’re dissatisfied with the interview. Keeping your take-aways pointed and succinct can help prevent that.

For print:

newspaperreporterYour words will be filtered by a reporter: If you’re being interviewed by print journalists, they’re likely taking notes by hand or recording the interview for transcribing later. Either way, what appears in print is subject to the reporter’s understanding and interpretation of what you’ve said. To help prevent a miscommunication, have your take-aways written down so you can be very clear and allow no room for misunderstanding. If the reporter does not have a specialty beat related to your expertise or is with a mainstream publication, as opposed to a trade, avoid using a lot of technical terms and jargon.

Social Media:

Can you share a take-away in 140 characters or less?: The beauty of social media is that you’re in control; the challenge is that you must be self-disciplined about the length of what you write. Twitter limits each post to 140 characters. One study of Facebook found that posts with 0 to 140 characters got far more responses than those with 141 and more. Another study found posts of 100 to 250 characters (about three lines) got 60 percent more response than those with more than 250. Be succinct. If you want to share lengthy material, post a link.

One thing holds true whether you’re giving a talk, an interview or posting on social media: Overtly promoting yourself, your product, company or book is not content that audiences value. They have ads and commercials – often entertaining, multi-million-dollar productions – for that.

Establishing yourself as an expert in your field sets you apart from your competition, which is why publicity is so important to building your brand.

The goal is not to sell, but to share your special knowledge in ways that will benefit your audience. In return, you gain their respect, trust, gratitude, and eventually, their patronage.

Marsha-with-Signature Copyright 2013 by Marsha Friedman. Reprinted with permission. Marsha Friedman launched EMS Incorporated in 1990. Her firm represents corporations and experts in a wide array of fields such as business, health, food, lifestyle, politics, finance, law, sports and entertainment. She consults individuals and businesses on a daily basis and is frequently asked to speak at conferences about how to harness the power of publicity. Outside of the office, she is also the founder of a non-profit organization called the Cherish the Children Foundation. In 1996 the White House recognized her charity which sets out to raise awareness of the plight of underprivileged and foster children. Visit Marsha’s Website!



Authors & Speakers Network Blog

Larry James is a professional speaker and the author of three relationship books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” His newest book is “Ten Commitments of Networking.” Larry James also offers “Author & Speaker” coaching. Contact:, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – More than 110 articles especially for Authors & Speakers at:

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