The two-day media and presentation skills workshop we’ve put together for you next month in New York City makes me really proud. I hope you’ll consider joining us. If you can’t, I hope you’ll help us by spreading the word to your colleagues or clients who may benefit from the session.
If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you already have a sense of my style. The workshop will have the same tone as the blog — substantive, fast-moving, and occasionally humorous. You can find more information about the session here.
We’re limiting registration to the first 12 people. We already have several people registered, but there’s still some space for you and your colleagues.
The workshop costs $1,495 per person, with a discount for groups of three or more. I pledge that you will leave the session knowing, without a doubt, that you received a great return on your investment.
If your company has a budget for training, I hope you’ll consider using it for this workshop. You’ll not only learn new skills that you can begin applying immediately, but you’ll be helping to support this blog.
You’ll find more information below, along with links to register. I hope to see you soon.
During the two-day interactive workshop, you will learn how to:
- Master the rules of working with the media
- Develop winning media messages and “message supports”
- Confidently interview for print, radio, television, and online media
- Take control of an interview
- Answer the tough questions
- Focus on non-verbal communication
- Grab the audience with a powerful opening
- Organize your presentation so it’s remembered long after you finish
- Forge a connection with energy, eye contact, movement, and your voice
- Speak with open gestures and confident posture
- Reduce your fear—and use it to your advantage
- Use (not abuse) PowerPoint
- …And much more
About the workshop
Although we teach you the dos and don’ts of media interviewing and delivering presentations, we also teach the rationale behind our advice. We believe it’s important for you to know not just what to do but why you should do it. Therefore, our recommendations are rooted in the latest social science.
Our workshops are interactive, dynamic, fast-moving, and information-packed. They’re also fun. We believe that people learn better when they enjoy the experience.
Note: Please contact us at email@example.com if you’re only interested in attending the media training workshop on day one.
Testimonials from previous clients
Before investing in this class, you probably want to know what our clients have said about our work. Click here to read what our past clients have said about us.
About your trainer
Brad Phillips is the president of Phillips Media Relations, a media and presentation training firm with offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City. He is the founder of the Mr. Media Training Blog, the world’s most-visited media training website. He is also the author of the Amazon #1 PR bestseller, The Media Training Bible: 101 Things You Absolutely, Positively Need to Know Before Your Next Interview.
Before founding Phillips Media Relations in 2004, Brad worked as a journalist with ABC’s Nightline with Ted Koppel and CNN’s Reliable Sources and The Capital Gang.
Click here to see videos of Brad in action.
Two-Day Media and Presentation Training
New York City
April 8-9, 2014
Editor’s Note: This post was written by Kylie Johnson, a communications professional based in Sydney.
I was giving a workshop on the psychology of digital media. I wore a beautiful red dress, held together with a zip down the back.
It was the ultimate professional dress for a girl with an hourglass figure. No cleavage, flattering, mid length, etc.
So, there I was, sitting in front of the class talking about Jungian archetypes when I realized the dress was feeling loose. I’d lost some weight so I was congratulating myself.
Then I realized I could actually feel the air conditioning…on my back. Yes, the zip had come apart and the dress was starting to fall off.
I rapidly went through my options. Pretending nothing was happening was clearly never going to work. The dress was about to drop off completely and this was a three-hour workshop.
There was no option but to say ‘in case you’ve failed to notice, my dress is falling off’ and make a joke of it. What happened next was wonderful.
The women ran to me with safety pins, scarves, jackets, etc. The men sat rigid in their seats and did nothing. I spoke to one of them later, and he said ‘oh, we were just waiting to see what happened next.’ Another said ‘oh, we weren’t doing nothing.’’ Bless him.
So, what did happen next? How to rescue the situation? I laughed – gave them an exercise to do and escaped (backwards) to the bathroom where I fixed up the dress as best I could. I then made the dress a running gag throughout the next three hours. Of course I sat very, very still. I had their full attention!
The result? Three new clients (no, not just the men) and an invitation to return for another workshop next month.
Someone once said, if you can’t hide a flaw, highlight it and turn it into a feature! It actually worked in my favor. No one ever forgot that workshop although I’m not sure everyone remembers what I said…
A few years ago, I was invited to join a panel discussion.
The organizer didn’t provide me with much detail in advance, so I emailed a few times to learn more about the panel. “It’s just a loose conversation about the media,” he told me. “No need to prepare anything specific.”
I asked whether I should prepare any opening remarks. He told me that there wouldn’t be any and that he’d jump straight into the conversation.
As the four of us on the panel took our seats, the organizer/moderator introduced us. Then, without warning, he said: “We’ll begin with each panelist giving five minutes of opening remarks. We’ll start with Brad Phillips.”
I’ve written before about that “oh, shit” moment, where your physiological symptoms overwhelm you as the fight or flight syndrome kicks in. My heart started thumping.
I had mere seconds to decide what to do. I could have complained that he hadn’t informed me in advance that I’d need an opening statement (although, curiously, he seemed to have informed the other panelists). I could have informed the audience that although I wasn’t prepared, I’d do the best I could. Or I could have asked for someone else to go first.
Instead, I decided to fight through it. I gave an opening statement. On the plus side, the words I uttered were in English—but that was about the only thing I had going for me. My opening statement lacked a central theme, a sense of importance, and any type of organization. As a presentation coach, I’d give it a “C-.”
Since then, I’ve learned to formulate my impromptu comments using a sandwich formula, with the main point at the beginning and end of my comments, supplemented by an example or two in the middle. Alternatively, you might try the “reverse sandwich” formula, which places your examples at the beginning and end of your comments, anchored by the main point in the middle.
In hindsight, I made the right decision to proceed without excuse. But I’ll never walk into a panel presentation again without a well-formed opening and closing statement ready to go.
Don’t stop learning! Click here for more information about our April 8-9, 2014 presentation skills and media training workshop in New York City.
This week, we’re focusing on public speaking horror stories—mine and yours. (Please leave yours in the comments section below!)
Reader Susan Martin wrote in with a rather embarrassing moment:
“I was media training a high-profile physician, and part of the presentation included advice for doing interviews via Skype. To demonstrate the importance of camera angle and an uncluttered background, I planned to show her an interview another doctor had done recently that was posted on a news website. It had a commercial for hand lotion at the start, but that was only a few seconds long. However …. when I played it during the training session, that inoffensive hand lotion was nowhere to be seen. Instead it was an ad for some kind of “feminine odor” spray, and it was the longest 20 seconds of my life. We quickly moved on and the physician was very kind and did not remark on it. But I never played a live video from a website again!”
I feel your pain. No, I’ve never run a commercial for a feminine body spray, but I’ve had more than a few glitches with streaming video during live presentations. Sometimes it’s unavoidable (if the video is not downloadable for some reason), and I always hold my breath when hitting “play.” In my experience, streaming video in front of a live audience works only about 80 percent of the time.
In an effort to prevent live streaming video glitches, I download videos from YouTube using Freemake Video Downloader and insert the videos into PowerPoint. That usually works well, and it prevents me from having to rely on a live stream. And good news: if I’m reading the Freemake Facebook page correctly, you can edit the commercials out.
As a final precaution, I also load the videos as a live stream at the event venue before speaking. That way, if the PowerPoint crashes or the video has some sort of glitch, I can at least toggle over to the “live” version as a backup.
Thank you for sharing your public speaking horror story, Susan! I appreciate you reminding all of us of the dangers of streaming live video, whether it’s for an audience of one or one thousand.
Please leave your public speaking horror story—and your lessons learned—in the comments section below.
A few years ago, I was hired to give a keynote speech to a group of about 100 PR professionals.
I wanted to make this presentation special—completely tailored to this group—and spent a lot of time preparing a personal keynote.
The open I created felt particularly strong. I practiced it several times until I got the timing and wording just right. I was confident that the open would not only get a laugh, but that it would set the stage for the entire talk by establishing a theme I planned to return to numerous times. This was a sure winner, and I couldn’t wait to deliver it.
On the morning of the keynote, I waited a few extra minutes before beginning so the latecomers could find their seats without disrupting my open. When everyone appeared to be seated, I signaled to my host that he should begin his introduction of me.
He introduced me, I strode to the center of the room, and I opened my talk.
I was about one minute into the open when the doors to the room swung open. In walked four members of the catering team, who proceeded to refresh the drink and snack stations quite noisily. As they slammed ice into the ice chest and set the coffee station, the entire audience turned toward the loud disruption. The noise continued for what felt like a lifetime (but what was probably about a minute).
To prevent any awkwardness, I decided to continue speaking—but the interruption stole the audience’s attention and broke my flow. The open’s punch line landed with less impact than it should have, and my critical moment to establish the presentation’s framework was, at least partially, diminished.
In hindsight, there are a few things I could have done differently.
1. Speak to the host and catering manager in advance
It would have been perfectly appropriate to ask to speak with the catering manager when I arrived to the speaking venue. I could have asked the manager when they planned to refresh service and to come up with a mutually convenient moment to do so (preferably before or after my presentation).
2. Ask the catering staff to come back later
The moment I realized that the catering crew was going to create a noisy disturbance, I could have asked them to return later. The key would be to make sure my tone toward the crew wasn’t even remotely rude; any whiff of condescension would have made everyone in the room uncomfortable. Rather, I’d have to make sure my tone came across as apologetic and kind (“Pardon me. I’m sorry to ask you to do this, but we’re just getting started here. Would it be possible to please come back during our first break in about an hour? Thank you so much.”)
3. Hit the pause button
This is my least favorite option of the three, but it might still have been better than trying to speak over the din. I could have said, “I want to make sure you’re all able to hear without distraction, so why don’t we give the catering crew a few moments to do their work, and then I’ll resume?”
This is “public speaking horror story week.” What speaking horror stories have you faced? Please leave your experiences and lessons learned in the comments section below.
Many years ago, I was hired to speak to a group of about 80 people.
The client requested a format I was uncomfortable leading. She wanted to do a message development workshop with all 80 people in the room, something my gut told me was doomed to fail. Message development sessions can be challenging to begin with—but if they’re not contained to a small, core group of people, they can be difficult to control and unwieldy.
I accepted the job—my first mistake—but was determined to make it work. From the moment I kicked off the session, it became clear that there was nothing even close to consensus in the group. There were different factions with contrasting opinions, each lacking any willingness to compromise.
Using every bit of skill and knowledge that I’d acquired up to that point, I was able to move the group forward, if only a little. But I felt “off” the entire time.
And then it happened. When walking up the stairs from the floor to the platform, I tripped.
I’m not talking about one of those subtle trips where your foot catches the top of a stair and you’re able to catch yourself with one hand. No, I’m talking about one of those face-plant trips, where your papers fly out of your hand, and your body hitting the stage makes a tremendous thud.
I felt my face reddening. I was mortified. Because I was already feeling “off,’’ that slip felt like the culmination of a bad day—and made me feel like a giant failure. I stood up and continued, barely acknowledging that anything had happened. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
In hindsight (and now, with many more years of experience), I would have handled that much differently.
First, I would have remembered that such moments make the audience uncomfortable. My job as a speaker was to stand up, smile, and let the audience know I was alright and remained in control. Although a natural tendency in those moments is to speed up, I would have been better served to slow down for a moment, calmly collect my papers, and pause before continuing.
Second, I would have handled the moment with humor. For example, I could have:
Approached someone in the audience and jokingly whispered, “You don’t think anyone saw that, do you?”
Said, “Perhaps that’s a sign that the third message isn’t quite there yet?”
Or, if it was a friendly crowd said, “From now on, if you don’t like one of these messages, please raise your hand instead of greasing the stairs.”
These incidents—as awful as they feel in the moment—are also wonderful opportunities to exhibit your competence. When it happens to you, slow down, convey a sense of control, and don’t be afraid to laugh at your human imperfection.
Have a public speaking horror story? Please leave it in the comments section below, along with the lesson you learned from that moment.
This week, I’ll focus on public speaking horror stories—mine and yours.
The goal isn’t simply to share fun stories about the public speaking nightmares we’ve all experienced (although I’ll admit that they can make for fun reading). Rather, my hope is to use those experiences to share lessons about what others should do if faced with a similar situation.
I’ll post a few of my own horror stories this week, but I’d also like to post yours!
Please leave your personal public speaking horror stories in the comments section below. In addition to sharing the story, please leave some advice for people who may face the same situation. Now that you’ve had time to think about what went wrong, what would you do differently?
I’ll post a few of your excerpts throughout the week. I look forward to learning from you!
By now, you may have heard about a Cleveland PR pro named Kelly Blazek, whose harsh rejection letter to a young public relations professional made the rounds last week.
Here’s the summary, as reported by Mark Naymik of the Northeast Ohio Media Group:
“[Blazek] produced and distributed a popular email that culled job openings from online job sites and from her own contacts. She worked hard for 10 years building her contacts and curating the list of people who receive the email, limiting recipients largely to those with experience in the field.”
The trouble started when a 26-year-old named Diana Mekota sent a LinkedIn request to Ms. Blazek along with a request to join her email list. Mekota was shocked when she received the following reply:
After her vicious broadside went viral, Ms. Blazek offered a chastened—and seemingly genuine—apology, which reads in part:
“My Job Bank listings were supposed to be about hope, and I failed that. In my harsh reply notes, I lost my perspective about how to help, and I also lost sight of kindness, which is why I started the Job Bank listings in the first place.
The note I sent to Diana was rude, unwelcoming, unprofessional and wrong. I am reaching out to her to apologize. Diana and her generation are the future of this city. I wish her all the best in landing a job in this great town.”
I do not and would never support Ms. Blazek’s approach. Not only is what she wrote awful—but as a purely tactical matter, it’s also dumb to risk one’s entire reputation by committing such thoughts to print.
But I do understand her frustration. I’m regularly contacted by people I’ve never met whose approach to networking similarly turns me off.
In some cases, someone I’ve never interacted with before writes, “Hey, I’m going to be in NYC tomorrow. Want to meet for coffee and talk about how we might work together?” (No. If you’re not serious enough about a potential partnership to contact me more than 24 hours in advance of a requested meeting, you aren’t serious enough about working together.)
Or it might be a person asking me for a job via a Twitter direct message. (If, instead of putting a thoughtful cover letter together you choose to send a casual 140-character tweet, you’re too casual about something I take seriously — my company.)
If we’re going to work together, I want a little courtship. I hope you know something about my work and are serious enough about your approach to put together a serious pitch. The young woman who contacted Ms. Blazek didn’t do that. Here’s Ms. Mekota’s original message:
Notice how she doesn’t express any knowledge about the Job Bank or its author? Notice how the entire message is self-focused and impersonal, with many of the sentences beginning with “I?”
Yes, Ms. Blazek’s nuclear response to a mild infraction was wildly inappropriate, but it should also be pointed out that this was not exactly the best pitch. A more humble approach from Ms. Mekota about forging a relationship with the more experienced pro would have been more effective. (I do, however, give Ms. Mekota enormous credit for her high-ground response to Ms. Blazek.)
Ms. Blazek’s approach is never acceptable. I would never treat someone who wrote to me so disrespectfully. But I do understand her frustration.
What do you think? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.