According to Psychology Today, people are more afraid of public speaking than death. I see you nodding your heads out there, and to be honest when I first started practicing the skill I felt the same. While it’s perfectly fine to sweat having to speak in public or to the press if you’re the one tasked with representing your organization in a tough situation you can’t let it show.
Try these 3 tips on public speaking from Bernstein Crisis Management media training experts:
- Have a plan. Even the best speakers are going to have a bad time if they go into an interview and wing it. Know what you want your audience to come away remembering and how you’ll get them there. Remember they may not believe you on reputation alone and that you’ll need actual facts, figures, or outside opinions to support your points.
- Avoid repeating negatives. A classic trap those facing tough questions fall into is repeating the negative. If someone asks, “Why did your company choose to lay off 800 employees?”, the last thing you want to answer with is, “We chose to lay off 800 employees because…”. Consider how to rephrase answers to predictable questions before the interview so you’re ready.
- Remember compassion. This is the single element missing in most speakers during the crisis. Unfortunately, tough times are when you need it most. Make sure people know you understand why they’re upset, scared, or angry. Until you can convince them you “get it” most audiences simply won’t listen, or even worse will actively rally against anything you say.
Making safety a part of your daily conversations will raise awareness and improve response, both of which are critical to surviving major incidents. To see the rest of Doug’s potentially life-saving tips visit his article by clicking here.
[Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is vice president for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]