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Talking to the media - Dos and Don'ts. Or how not to fumble your next briefing.

You would think that talking to the media is a piece of cake, right? You know your stuff, you're passionate and excited about your product and your company and you have some kick-ass slides to prove your points. And yet sometimes your message just doesn’t come across bored faces and awkward silences from your companion can put you off your stride. Here's a quick guide on how to nail that briefing.

Smile
Even if you're on the phone and your companion can't see your face, they will hear that smile in your voice. If there’s a smile in your voice, everything you say will sound more convincing and exciting, and will make your target much more likely to engage and be excited too.

Practise

Too many ums and ahs sound like you don't know your own stuff. You might well be CTO and have an amazing grasp of the technology and the business plan but if you haven’t practiced the pitch, it just won't sound convincing.

You need to sound as though you know exactly what you mean, and then the listener will have faith in you. Make sure that, if you are using slides to illustrate your points, you know them inside out (and don't have too many). A good rule of thumb is one slide per five minutes of talk, plus an introduction and end slide. Whizzing through masses of written information while trying to follow you talk is a challenge you shouldn't set the interviewer, either: graphs and diagrams to demonstrate your points are fine, lines and lines of text not.

Know your audience

ALWAYS customise any briefing to suit your audience. Remember, for example, if you’re talking to an analyst, lots of technical detail is great - the more the better, actually. Analysts and the more technical press will generally have a good knowledge of the technology you're talking about, of the language you're using and of the market in general.

But if you're talking to the editor of a channel or more general business publication, you need to lose most of the jargon. That's because they are primarily interested in how your technology benefits the resellers and end users - how is of less importance to this audience than knowing when. So, be crystal clear on why you and your products are the best think about how you can illustrate this - are there any customer names you can drop into conversation to back your case up, for example?

This can be tricky – some users can be media-shy. But if you have a customer happy to have their name in the press, then absolutely talk about it. Nothing makes a claim sound more convincing than having someone as a real customer getting advantage from it.

Follow up!
If there's anything you're asked to expand on, get more information about or update a fact, make sure you do. The press (and those detail-hungry analysts) ask questions to gain a better understanding the more you can give them the better, remember. Use your PR agency as a go-between to smooth this process and strive to ensure your audience has all the information it needs to communicate the excitement of your announcement.

So, now you're ready to go out there and wow the media. What are you waiting for?

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