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The most important thing a media coach can tell you is: it’s your confidence that matters. Make sure you stand firm on whatever stage you take. The first thing people notice is not what you say, but how you look, how you stand, how you move.

The next thing they notice is the sound of your voice and the quality of your delivery. Then and only then does your content register with your audience, so make sure you have your key messages ready and get them out quickly. You never know when you will lose your audience. Whatever you get across before that is an asset, everything else is a liability. Remember what makes key messages effective.

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When we get called to a podium or in front of a camera, a lot of us experience stress. Fortunately, there’s a way to deal with that. First, let’s understand what stress is. Basically, stress arises from a situation we don’t feel we can cope with. This might be a camera date today, but for hundreds of thousands of years, it was more likely to be coming face to face with a sabre-tooth tiger. This was what nature equipped us to deal with, and so even today, when we feel we can’t cope, the old mechanism kicks in even though sabre-tooth tigers are long gone. The mechanism, once designed to enable fight or flight and nothing else, shuts down all non-essential brain functions.

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If you want to influence others, make sure you influence yourself. Make sure you stand behind what you are saying. That, in a nutshell, is the secret behind successful communications. The magic ingredient is concentration, directing your own attention to what matters. In terms of communications, this means that what you are saying is important, just as the audience is. That’s because communication is something of an echo. As you apply concentration and dedication in facing your audience, your audience will return the favour, concentrating on what you say and appreciating it.

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The phone rings, and there’s a journalist on the line. What do you do? You tell him you’ll call back. First of all, it’s a matter of principle. No journalist can expect that a busy executive like you could spontaneously find the time to talk to him. By the way, how did this person get through to you anyhow? Might you have been too liberal in giving out your cell phone number? Perhaps it’s time to get a new one and restructure your contact system. But let’s get back to that journalist. You told him you’d call back, preferably stating a time. Now consider calling your press department. In most cases, that’s a good idea.

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Imagine you’re facing a speaking opportunity. Chances are you don’t fancy it. Most of us find speaking before a crowd a little intimidating. One way to deal with this would be to read from a script. But while that will ensure against mistakes, it will also insulate you from your audience. While you read, you can’t be looking at them, and without eye contact there’s no emotional connection. So look your audience in the eye. Better yet, start doing so before you face them. That’s right - visualize your audience as you prepare your speech.

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