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I media train a lot of sales people. They’re great talkers, ready with charming anecdotes, great at making prospects feel heard by repeating what they say. We must train them out of the habit of repeating the reporter’s language instead of using their own; into the habit of using soundbites instead of paragraphs; into steering interviews toward their message instead of doing the active listening they’ve been trained to do. It takes a lot of work for salespersons to become great spokespersons, but when they embrace this new way of communicating, they’re masterful!
I also train a lot of people with PhDs – researchers, professors. They dive into subjects in detail, exploring every avenue. They think soundbites are too simplistic. But reporters want one punchy sentence that distills an issue. Breaking the habit of speaking like they’re in a dissertation defense or a class lecture is the key to training an academic. Once they get it, though, reporters love talking to these amazing experts!
The people I train are brilliant, disciplined and successful. They built great communications skills to achieve what they did – they just need to set those skills aside and build new ones to learn to be great media spokespersons!
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