Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

'Deliver your key messages and you'll be okay.'


No, not okay. You need one more thing, and it's vital. Believability.  And it must be obvious in this new world of alternative facts that getting a nicely worded key message does not, by itself, give you believability. 

So what does?

For all types of media - look and sound as if you want to be there giving the interview.

Here's my rule of thumb. For an average public audience, only 10% of your impact is in the content. The rest, a whacking 90%, is in how you deliver the content. 

Impact? Think lasting impressions of you and your organisation. Walt Whitman put it perfectly when he said, "We convince by our presence."  Have you seen the pole vaulter Eliza McCartney give an interview? Most of us remember her for her presence even more than for her remarkable athletic abilities.  

Wait a minute. Won't those 10% 90% figures be different for say TV, compared to the print media? 

Maybe, but not in any way that matters, because even in a phone interview you're still talking to a human being, directly affecting the reporter who's about to write the article.

As a media trainer I have come across many subtle components of believability.  But we don't need to go into them because there is one simple and practical way to switch it on when you need it. Let me re-state the tip above. Ask yourself:

Do you want people to believe your message?  Okay, then show that desire as you speak.  Make it obvious. Get a little worked up. Get a bit of enthusiasm into your eyes, face and body language, and in your voice.

It makes an extraordinary difference. The average human mind cannot separate the message from the medium. So, when speaking the media, the medium that really counts is you. You have to be believable as well as your message.




About Michael Brown

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Michael is a senior trainer with Skillset, based in Christchurch.

He is a leading authority on training in presentation and news media skills in New Zealand. He has special expertise in how to present emotionally-charged topics to challenging audiences. Michael has trained thousands of New Zealanders and worked with people who speak on behalf of some of the country's largest organisations.

Michael is a prolific author and his books on speaking and working with the media are in their fourth editions.

Speaking Easy: how to speak to your audiences with confidence and authority

Media Easy: how to handle the news media with confidence and authority

One of Michael's books is about his family's adventures sailing in the Pacific.

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