Practice makes perfect. Yes, we all know that’s the rule, but when you’re the CEO or C-suite executive dealing with so many competing interests, how do you justify the time required to go into preparing for media interviews?  

From my experience advising senior leaders in the private sector and the political arena, you can learn the hard way (with devastating reputational consequences) or you can learn with a softer landing the lesson that what you say matters — and you can do so by using the same skills that got you to the top in the first place, applying discipline, dedication and repetition. Winging it is not an option. 

Nobody really likes to do their homework or eat their vegetables. Same goes for media training. Who wants to sit through hours of drilling, grilling and rinse, rather, repeat? It’s not a fun process to learn to hit your media mark, but the ability to effectively communicate your message to the public — especially during a crisis — can be a game-changer. 

Here are 4 keys to mastering media training: 

  1. Crafting the Right Message: Media training begins with honing the art of the soundbite. Business leaders need to learn how to distill complex concepts into clear, concise, and compelling messages that resonate with their audience. The right message can make all the difference in how a brand is perceived by the public.
  2. Landing the Delivery: Even the best message can fall flat, though, if it’s not delivered effectively. Media training teaches leaders how to project confidence, maintain composure under pressure, control their body language and redirect the interview to their “home base” of messaging. 
  3. Handling Tough Questions: Interviews are not conversations. Media training prepares leaders to handle tough questions, pivot to their key messages, and avoid trip-ups that could cause a go-viral moment. It’s about staying on message while addressing concerns earnestly.
  4. Watching Instant Replay: Media training usually includes simulated interviews where CEOs and leaders take on tough questions and real-time feedback from their advisors. Learn from what you see — play up what you like seeing, and edit out what you don’t like to see. 

Media training, like eating your vegetables, can be a painful process but a necessary one to build strength and a healthy approach to managing your organization’s reputation and brand value. But don’t look at it as a chore but more as an investment in your organization’s long-term wellness and successful future. 

This article was written by President Natalie Bauer Luce. Natalie is a seasoned communications and public affairs strategist with extensive experience in government, law, media, politics and business.