Audience First and Last

Spokespeople tend to start planning what they want to say in a media interview by focusing on what they believe they need or are obliged to tell the audience. This is fine if all they are really concerned about is being seen or heard to broadcast their organisation or brand’s key messages, but simply saying something does not mean the audience will find it relevant, interesting or motivating.

That’s why we coach our media training clients to use a storytelling process that starts and ends with thinking about the audience they will be engaging with, rather than the messages they think they should be delivering.

Who are the people they will be talking to?  Why might they be watching or listening to the interview? What benefit could they get from anything you tell them? What would you like them to do if they appreciate what they see or hear?

Thinking through what will turn on the audience will help determine the key messages that are the most relevant. As importantly, it will also make the spokesperson think more about the facts, figures, opinions and insights they should give, and the language and tone they should use.

Taking this approach is somewhat counter-intuitive to traditional media training, as it makes key message delivery subservient to the quality of communication and engagement. We strongly advocate the use of key messaging in order to ensure communication is clear and consistent, but effective message delivery is not just about learning and saying certain key words.

In today’s communication landscape it is essential that spokespeople quickly establish an emotional as well as rational connection with their target audiences. This means thinking carefully about appropriate language and tone, and using the most relevant and interesting facts, anecdotes and analogies to bring their story to life.

It is also important to consider what you wear and how you look. This applies not just to engagement where the spokesperson will be seen by audience and face-to-face interviews with journalists, but also to telephone or online interviews, as even though you cannot be seen, it helps your performance if you dress as if you can be.

The audience first and last approach means that spokespeople must be able to plan for, and react to specific contexts and circumstances in order to ensure they are engaging and motivating their audience on an emotional level, whilst getting the most relevant messages.

Our media coaching modules have been developed to provide the confidence, know-how and tools to help them to do this.