What President Obama Can Teach Us About PR, Public Speaking & Media Training

by Sandra Fathi on September 9, 2011

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President Obama Introducing the American Jobs ActWhen we sat down to watch President Obama last night in his speech on the American Jobs Act, my husband and I knew that we had different views on his politics, but we both agree that he is an outstanding orator. President Obama is undoubtedly one of the best speakers that has graced the White House in decades. Regardless of your views on the content of his speech, there is no doubt that he captures the attention of his audience, that he is a dynamic and charismatic speaker and that he knows how to master a media opportunity. Earlier this week, I conducted a media training workshop for one of our clients and as part of the program, we watched videos showcasing some of the best and the worst media performances in recent months. So many of the worst examples were made by politicians who let their egos get the best of them, lost their composure and they failed to take advantage of a great media opportunity.

At the conclusion of our media training session, we talk about the “5 Cs” of execution in a media interview or public speaking. Obama mastered the 5 Cs long before last night’s speech but following his lead is an excellent example for any executive in the private or public sector.

The 5 Cs:

  • Conviction – Deliver your message with conviction and enthusiasm. If you are able to demonstrate your passion for a topic, your excitement on an issue, it can sway an audience and the media.
  • Conversation – Keep in mind your audience when developing your content – and have a conversation with them on a subject they care about and in a way that they understand. Straight-forward examples and universal terms are better than highly technical explanations that can confuse and alienate your audience.
  • Composure – Even in a hostile environment (like a room filled with your political opponents or skeptical media) keeping your composure and persevering in your mission is critical. If you lose your cool or go on the defensive, your credibility can be damaged.
  • Confidence – The best way to come to a media opportunity or speaking engagement full of confidence is to prepare extensively and know your content inside and out. Having a strong grasp of the issues, clearly outlining your message and arming yourself with facts, figures and irrefutable data helps any speaker confidently step into the spotlight.
  • Color – People may remember facts and figures – but they identify and bond with stories. Whenever you can provide colorful examples that illustrate your message while engendering an intellectual or emotional tie to the audience, you can leave a lasting imprint.
Although it is hard for anyone to match President Obama’s natural talent in this arena, we can all learn from him and improve. Whether we are giving a speech to the entire United States, a group of employees or just one industry reporter, applying these rules can make any opportunity a powerful moment of change in the course of our lives and our business.

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