Thursday, November 02, 2006

Preparing Your Spokesperson

Here are six techniques your spokesperson can use to convey positive messages, even when questions get difficult:

- Use key messages as a base to generate fresh answers to questions. Use conversational language. Support your assertions with data and stories to illustrate why your service is newsworthy.
- Don’t introduce controversy unprompted. Avoid going off on the needless tangent by keeping answers short. When your spokesperson has finished answering, he or she should stop talking and await the next questions. Also remember to focus replies around one theme or key message.
- Good planning is vital to avoid divulging too much information. Pausing to collect thoughts is a good way to avoid confusion or raising a negative subject. Think of an answer as an essay. You need an introduction, a body and a conclusion.
- Facial expression is very important. Much credibility is judged this way. To look more engaged and professional, sit upright in the chair, make eye contact and smile. Hand gestures can convey passion for the topic and emphasize messages.
- Speaker credibility is also judged on the way you talk. It is important to be aware of tone. Make sure the topic being discussed matches the emotional quality you project in your voice.
- Building bridges is an effective way to handle negative questions. First acknowledge the topic the journalist raised. Mention the subject so the journalist knows you’ve heard the question. The second step is to use a phrase that builds a bridge from the journalist’s topic to one of your key messages. Use phrases such as “actually” or “I’d characterize that differently.” The final step is to provide a message with critical supporting data points or stories.

These tips will help to expand your spokesperson’s talents and capabilities. Following this advice will greater your chances that newsworthy, positive information is conveyed to the masses.

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