I’ve been media training executives for years. The training and exercises were focused on verbal communication and sharing the company’s messaging correctly. These thought leaders were tested in several media situations to see if they could answer questions accurately and in a way that always bridged back to the “talking points.” At the same time, they practiced non-verbal communication; what their bodies were saying as they shared these critical messages. Do the same media training techniques work today in a heated and highly emotional media landscape?
A Different Approach to Media Training
Let’s look at a different approach, one that goes beyond what you expect in media training. What you expect is only part of the equation when dealing with a passionate public and a polarized landscape, from the journalists who share the “news” stories to the audiences who watch, sometimes in awe or other times, in utter shock.
There’s far too much going on in the news not to be human and to react. Daily, you witness what’s happening, from the coronavirus pandemic, the economic concerns and the reopening of business to the racial injustice, protests across the country, and the lack of civil discourse in politics in an election year. The news cycle is fast and furious, and emotions are running high. So what’s the other part of the equation? It’s to take an emotionally intelligent approach to your media conversations and to show up to your interviews and appearances with your EI hat on and your willingness to navigate increasingly tough topics.
Emotional Intelligence and Executive Interviews
Why is emotional intelligence valuable wherever an executive shows up? If you don’t have a good handle on your own emotions, you will not manage others’ feelings. The rule applies to any of your stakeholders and important constituents. The media needs your emotional intelligence too. Building a relationship with journalists and their communities means being a trusted and reliable resource. However, this also translates into showing up to interviews with more than just talking points. You have to be emotionally ready to navigate difficult topics today and how they affect your business (even when you think it’s a “softball” interview).
I could steer you to any number of YouTube videos of interviews with cable news hosts and their guests that have “gone bad” and the tweets and Facebook posts that go viral as a result. However, let’s not focus on the negative. Now, there’s an approach to listen, learn, understand, and to do better in your interviews.
You have to take a FEEL approach to your media interviews. If you’ve been following me, then you know that FEEL stands for face your Fears, engage with Empathy, live with Ethics, and unleash your Love. Your talking points and messaging are still relevant, and so is your body language. However, it’s also your job to tune in and learn how others are showing up and to uncover what they are feeling.
What’s their real agenda? The first step to finding out is to quiet your mind and to be fully present. You may be thinking, “If I’m prepared to answer questions, and I’m really good with my own body language then why does it matter?” When your mind is clear, and you’re open and understanding about what’s going on with your journalist, the media outlet, and the audience, you’re moving from one-time interview to more frequent opportunities and go-to-media expert.
Three Top Reasons to Take a Mindful Approach
If there is any doubt about bringing emotional intelligence to your interviews, here are three top reasons to incorporate a new mindful approach:
- When you quiet the chatter, you’re on your toes, fully present, and much more likely to share a thoughtful answer than the quick, pressured response you may regret later.
- When your mind is clear, you’re also able to open your frame of reference. Taking the chip off your shoulder and checking your ego at the door helps you step back when you hear something that would typically cause you to have a knee-jerk reaction. Having a clear mind allows you to stop the constant knee-jerking. Instead, you’ll ask a question, which allows a conversation to progress more comfortably.
- When you’re fully present and open to hearing different perspectives, you’re also actively listening, which is a vital part of emotional intelligence. Of course, you’ll have more concise and helpful answers when you’re tuned in and listening. You’ll also be able to mirror back information that helps people feel validated about what they’re sharing, even if you’re not in 100% agreement with their views.
If you’re interested in trying a different approach to media, then there’s a FEEL Roadmap with exercises to help you to FEEL First, a new way to prep for your interviews. Completing the activities on the roadmap will prepare you to not only deliver your talking points but also to show up with more than just your messaging. Now, you’ll be EI ready for any interview.
You can download the FEEL Roadmap here.