Tips for the non-spokesperson

There are very few things in life that are guaranteed, but this may be one of them: no matter how many times we host media training sessions, for any organization, anywhere in BC, we always get asked:

“Why do I need media training? I’m never going to be a media spokesperson.”

And it makes sense to ask. Media training is often a day-long commitment required of busy people. It can be stressful and uncomfortable and it can resurface frustrating experiences (check out our Media Filters for more on this). So, if you’re not going to do media interviews, why bother?

Well. Because many speaking-to-media skills are also good talking-to-the-public skills. And you’re almost certainly going to do that as an employee of an organization. At a community meeting, a volunteer event, a committee presentation or even informally to a member of the public. Tools you use in media interviews can help you navigate conversations elsewhere, and help you feel confident about how you represent the organization you work for.

QUICK takeaways

  • Be really clear about what you can and cannot say: You’re a subject matter expert on your subject. You don’t have to be on others’ subjects. Stick to your topic and to information that is public, and offer to help get other information if questions stray outside of your box.
  • If you don’t know the answer, don’t guess: Maybe you know some of the answers, or you can make a reasonable estimation of what it would be. But just like media interviews, it’s important not to say something unless we’re sure of its accuracy.
  • Anticipate questions and practice responses: Thinking of the audience, brainstorm in advance possible questions that could arise. Think about how you can address them. How will you answer a question you don’t know the answer to? Having an answer you feel comfortable and confident delivering can put you more at ease in the moment.

There’s more too: bridging to keep conversations on track and preparing key messages to make the most of your opportunity to share. So, the next time you’re given the opportunity for media training, keep in mind that you might not be a media spokesperson. But you’re a spokesperson nonetheless.

What do you ZINC about media training? Send us a note at with your thoughts/ideas.