Sixty seconds can make or break a CEO’s career and a company’s reputation. Any media engagement, print or broadcast, which falls short of first-rate can be critically damaging.
Key constituencies: customers, shareholders and regulators are watching you. And if they don’t see you then, there’s always a chance later. You now live forever on the internet, YouTube, social media and even your company’s intranet.
My former boss Neil Cavuto from Fox News and Fox Business used to joke: ‘hey it’s only cable!.’ Those days are gone. Cable News is the new norm, and social media replicates whatever is said, into infinity. – Templar consultant Molly Falconer de Ramel
A less than strong appearance reflects poorly on leadership, undermines confidence in the institution and, in extreme cases, can impact both brand and valuation. So what do you do?
In a live question and answer situation:
Leading up to the crucial interview, you’ve undoubtedly practised your key messages and different scenarios ad nauseam but when everything is happening lightning-fast, there’ll be times you’ll need to throw what the producer told your press people out the window.
It’s extremely likely that the anchor, who is under pressure for time and has multiple guests during his or her show, will focus on breaking news events or the previous guest.
1. If you’re scheduled to speak about your company’s outlook on the economy, and President Trump has just sent a tweet about China, you’ll most likely be talking about China. Training your nerves and being able to be agile in handling “going live” is harder than ever before. The trick here is to let no more than a few seconds pass before you pivot.
2. If you don’t believe in your message, it will show – the media and audience can smell a fake. If you are lying, it will show. Rehearsing soundbites will not necessarily help you but taking the time to find out what you bring to the table, and what you can honestly address, does.
3. “Yes or no” is never an answer – you’ll look guilty and ill-prepared either way. The media wants soundbites and a lively conversation. It is your job to provide them that. That way, you elevate yourself and your company from just another talking head, to a “go-to” trusted commentator, which guarantees your company access when you have something to say.
4. Rephrase the question, with a bridge to your message, and go ahead with what you want to say. This enables your agenda, and disables the reporter. Plus, you are leading with an offense, rather than a defence. Start with your strongest stuff, keep it short and simple and activate your jargon filter.
5. If you are in a pre-taped segment, you do have rights. You can ask for the questions ahead of time. This doesn’t set the outcome of your appearance in stone, but it does give you direction and, more importantly, gives your interviewer more time, which means he or she is more likely to have done research and is more likely to be prepared for your interview.
Molly Falconer de Ramel is an award-winning journalist who has spent over a decade reporting and anchoring international and national television news. Her specialty is finance and economics.
Molly has reported live from the floors of the NASDAQ and NYSE on Fox News and Sky News, specializing in daily market moves and trends. In addition she has written for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The People’s Daily (China), and Korea Times