I was asked to provide some media training and public speaking techniques to editors and writers at Bicycling Magazine (Rodale) at their headquarters in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, during the 2015 Tour de France.
Jim DeLorenzoJim DeLorenzo Public Relations um Jim DeLorenzo Public Relations
2. Begin with the basics
• Be prepared. Have notes, slides, material, references.
• Be on time.
• Be courteous.
• THIS IS IMPORTANT. TURN OFF YOUR PHONE. DO NOT LOOK AT YOUR
PHONE. PUT YOUR PHONE OUT OF YOUR MIND. PUT IT IN YOUR
BRIEFCASE, LEAVE IT IN YOUR CAR.
• Because THIS DISCUSSION is IMPORTANT. More important than any phone
call or text message or tweet you will receive in the next small period of
• Be Yourself. You are an expert about CYCLING -- you have credibility and a
reputation, experience and a message that people want to hear.
• Enjoy your time with your interviewer or the group.
3. Speaking in public
• You have been asked to speak to a group.
• This is a great thing.
• It is an honor.
• There are reasons why you have been asked to speak to a group:
• You are an expert on the subject matter;
• You have credibility on the subject;
• You (and Bicycling) have a great reputation;
• You have experience;
• You are learned.
4. Enjoy the opportunity
• Yes, you will be nervous. Everyone is nervous speaking in
• You may make a mistake – or two. No one is perfect, certainly
no else in the group you are speaking to is perfect. We are all
• Relax! We are our own worst critics.
• No one likes the sound of their own voice, or their photo.
• If you make a mistake – no big deal – don’t call attention to
• You’re on stage -- you’re in the spotlight – it’s fun!
• If you want to emulate someone you’ve seen speak in the past
– that’s great. Watch videos, watch presentations . Learn
from others. Watch the evening newscasts and see which
sound bites make the broadcast.
5. LOOK SHARP
• The better you look, the more ready and professional you'll feel.
• A lot of people are going to be looking at you -- make sure you look
• Be neat and tidy.
• If you’re going to be interviewed on TV, wear a solid, powder-blue,
• Comfortable and presentable.
• Dress appropriate to your audience, but…
• Dress appropriate to the way you want to be seen.
6. Know the room
• Check out the “specs” of the room where you’ll be speaking.
• Conference room? Auditorium? Open-air or tent?
• Find out about the sound system beforehand, test it before anyone
is in the room.
• Be familiar with your environment – you’ll be more comfortable in
your presentation and/or your interview.
• Talk to the room. Look people in the eye. Make eye contact around
7. KNOW YOUR Audience
• What is the group you are speaking to?
• Is there a moderator?
• Are there other people “on the panel” with you?
• Have a good idea of what they want from you.
• Tailor your speech to your audience and deliver it directly to them.
8. KNOW YOUR Audience
• YOUR AUDIENCE is not just the person interviewing you, or the
group you are speaking to at the moment.
• Your audience is potentially global, through a webcast, through viral
video, through live tweets, etc.
• What you say matters. How you say it matters. Who you say it to
• And who you represent when you are saying it matters.
• You are most likely speaking as a representative of Bicycling.
• Remember the p.r. rep for IAC who wrote an awkward tweet about
Africa while on a long flight, and what happened when she landed?
• YOUR AUDIENCE is everywhere.
9. Know your material
• Don’t wing it.
• Be prepared.
• Do your research.
• Know your topic, and what you are going to say about it, and how
you would like to say it.
• You can over prepare. It’s okay to leave something out during the
course of your comments. That’s what the question and answer
session is for, too!
• Remember that you were asked to speak, you were asked for an
interview, because you know something that they would like to
10. Nice and easy
• Slow down – don’t talk too fast.
• If it’s a speaking event with a meal – don’t eat.
• You are not there to eat you are there to speak. You can eat after
you are done.
• They came to see you but it’s not all about you!
• Don‘t be the speaker who wouldn’t leave. Keep your remarks as
brief but informative as you can.
• Be yourself.
11. Are you speaking alone
or as part of a panel?
• Understand beforehand the nature of your appearance.
• If it is just you speaking, you can shape the nature of your presentation.
• If you are part of a panel discussion, you are one voice in a “choir.”
• If you are part of a panel discussion:
• Don’t be an echo of someone else. Be yourself.
• If you have a differing opinion, present it diplomatically.
• It’s a group effort. Do you know your fellow panelists?
• Chat with fellow panel members beforehand to make sure
everyone is comfortable with the discussion.
• Meet with your moderator, if there is one, and see if they have
already prepared questions for you and your fellow panelists.
12. You are the subject expert.
• Tell them a little bit about your background.
• Talk about cycling based on your own experience or your research.
• Talk about cycling in plain language – laymen’s terms.
• If you use “jargon,” explain it – just don’t leave it hanging out there.
• Stay away from acronyms.
• Talk about things you know about.
• Don’t talk about things you don’t know about.
• If you don’t know about something, be honest. If it’s a question from your
audience, involve them by agreeing to respond to their query as a follow-
13. Dealing with a media interview
• As before, be yourself.
• Be prepared.
• Put away the cellphone, turn off the computer, turn off distractions, pay
attention to your interviewer and their questions.
• If it is a telephone interview, or Skype, concentrate on the conversation.
Close your door if you have one. Go somewhere without distractions or
• If it is an “in person” interview, prepare almost as if it is a public speaking
• This time you have an audience of ONE.
• BUT…you also have an audience beyond the reporter speaking with you.
14. Dealing with a media interview
• Break the ice with the reporter by asking something about them –
where they grew up, what their interests are, what kind of stories
they have covered – Do they bike? Have they competed?
• Prepare a single “objective” that you want to convey in the
interview, and two or three secondary points.
• Have statistics or information available if appropriate, to put an
issue into perspective to a reporter.
• State the most important information first, then provide the
• Keep responses brief but long enough to help the reporter get
15. THE BASICS for an interview
• There is no such thing as “Off the record.”
• Know your audience – who reads this reporter’s work, who watches
this reporter’s show, who listens to this person?
• Know your interviewer.
• Dress appropriately.
• Speak clearly, concisely, and don’t speak fast.
• Make eye contact (if possible).
• Be yourself, but as before, be the self you want to be seen
• It’s almost like a job interview.
16. Be prepared.
• Learn about the reporter before your interview.
• Read recent stories or watch recent clips.
• Know where the interview will appear.
• Google is a wonderful interview prep tool.
• Have an idea about the reporter’s style and media outlet.
• Ask the reporter questions.
• What’s your deadline?
• What kind of story is it?
• What’s your angle?
• Who else has been or will be interviewed?
17. During an interview
• Speak in complete thoughts. Your response will stand alone in the finished
• Sometimes you can talk too much. Stick to your main points, and repeat
your points if necessary to get back on track.
• Mention your subject by name several times during the interview.
• Use the reporter’s first name in answering a question once in a while – this
is best for print or radio interviews, not necessarily for video.
• Don’t overestimate the reporter’s knowledge of cycling or other subjects.
• Identify what you say as either fact or opinion – your opinions are your own
but facts are facts.
18. Be comfortable
• Sit up straight, sit in a good chair.
• Know your “elevator pitch” – what are you going to say.
• Think your answer through beforehand, but don’t hesitate to give your
• Look the reporter in the eye.
• Know where the camera is.
• Keep calm. Speak normal.
• Control the time.
• Stand still. Any motions should be made with your hands, not the head or
your whole body.
• Smile – or at least don’t make a face!
19. Know your story.
• An interview is an opportunity to tell your story.
• Select three key messages.
• Include facts, figures and anecdotes to make your story more compelling for
• Don’t give a reporter more than your message. Don’t embellish or keep
talking to fill an awkward silence.
• Stay “on message.”
• Use examples of your own experiences or events you have been involved
with, analogies to illustrate your message. “Earlier this week at the Tour de
20. Again, remember your
• An interview is your chance to reach the public or a key audience.
• Always prepare for an interview as if it is on television.
• Look beyond a reporter’s interview techniques.
• Tailor your remarks and your demeanor to your audience.
• The lowest-common denominator – laymen’s terms – no jargon, no
acronyms – you’re talking to an audience that is not an expert like
you are – pretend you’re explaining something to your family at a
21. Be assertive.
• Don’t just answer questions.
• Seize every opportunity to drive your messages.
• Reporters grab their audiences’ attention by leading off with the
most important, newsworthy or interesting information.
• Do the same thing with each of your answers.
• Short – pithy – sound-bites. Think of the “trends” stories you’re
read, or “trends” stories you’ve written or edited yourself.
• A good reporter will write a balanced story – don’t be afraid of that.
• Make your final comment clear and concise, re-emphasizing your
main point. If you feel that you failed to get the message across
earlier, work it in at the end. (“I think we’ve missed the critical issue
22. USE FLAGS and bridges.
• Signal that a key point is coming up by flagging it with a phrase, like: “the
key point is… “ or “what makes this important is…”
• Link each answer to a positive message by using “bridging” phrases like “but
let me put this into perspective…” or “but the real problem is…”
• You “bridge” the interview from the question you don’t want to answer to
the answer you want to give.
• “I can’t tell you that, but what I can tell you is…”
• Never buy into a reporter’s negative question – i.e. “Didn’t Lance Armstrong
ruin cycling as a sport?” – don’t answer “You could say that,” try “In fact,
many more people got involved in cycling over the past decade because
they watched more events in the media…”
23. TURN NEGATIVES TO
• Don’t be provoked.
• Anticipate tough questions and develop responsive answers that are
• Use each question to bridge to one of your key messages.
24. When you don’t know, say so.
• You are an expert but you don’t have all the answers.
• Say “I’ll get back to you,” or “I can put you in touch with someone
who has that answer.
• Be honest.
• And be responsive and responsible. If you say you will follow up
with the reporter you should do it. Respond as quickly as possible.
25. AVOID PROFESSIONAL
• Again, use laymen’s terms.
• “Personal best” instead of PB;
• “Anterior cruciate ligament” instead of ACL;
• “Half-Marathon” instead of 13.1 miles;
• “Repetitions” instead of “reps.”
• Don’t use jargon or buzzwords even if the reporter does.
• Explain abbreviations and technical terms.
• Know your audience.
• Realize you need to “keep it simple.” Sometimes.
26. FOCUS ON YOUR OBJECTIVE.
• Don’t get mired in statistics or lengthy explanations.
• If you want to be quoted, speak briefly and to the point.
• Correct misstatements and misperceptions during the conversation.
• Keep a sheet of paper with your main messages or points that you
wish to make in front of you. Print it out. Hold it in your hand.
27. Beware of interviewing traps.
• Use your own words.
• Don’t repeat negative language or allow the reporter to put words
into your mouth.
• Never lose your cool.
• Go ahead and repeat the question back to the reporter if that helps
you collect your thoughts, but don’t lose sight of your answer.
28. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS
• There is no such thing as an off –the –record interview or statement.
• In this age of 24/7 media – instant messages – text messages – Twitter and
Facebook – cell phone cameras and videos – everything is fair game.
• Think of Ray Rice in the elevator. Think of Ariane Grande in the donut shop.
• Off the record is what is in your head.
• If you say something, you can be sure it is heard or “recorded” by
• Protect yourself – protect your employer – protect your reputation – say
what you mean but think about it before you say it.
• Every interview counts, even with the seemingly smallest blogger or small-
town newspaper or radio station.
• Treat every interview as if you are television.
29. Have fun with it but be serious
• Talk with the reporter as if you were talking to a colleague or
• Have an actual conversation.
• Understand that it’s not necessarily an adversarial relationship but it
is a serious relationship.
• Be yourself.
• “Stay within yourself.” Trust your instincts, and trust yourself.
30. Thank you for your time today.
• Feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or observations.
• You can contact me through David Tratner, or you can contact me directly.
• E-mail: JIM@JHDENTERPRISES.COM
• Phone: (215) 266-5943
• Facebook: Facebook.com/jim.delorenzo1
• Twitter: @jhd16
• Google+: Jim DeLorenzo
• LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/jimdelorenzo
• Website: http://www.JHDEnterprises.com