So What’s the Difference Between Media and Presentation Training? And Why Does it Matter?

What’s the big deal about what you call a training session? Actually, the distinctions between different types of training are a big deal. Many people will ask for media interview training when they really need presentation training and vice versa.

Even the Public Relations Society of America, in the brochure promoting its 2011 International Conference, got the two confused in this workshop listing:

“Media Training: Enhancing Speaker Presence,
Controlling the Interview Process

The most successful speak powerfully, knowledgeably
and succinctly – all thanks to media training . . . “


It’s the phrase “Enhancing Speaker Presence…” that throws things off. A company executive being interviewed by a reporter is not a “speaker” for reasons explained below.

PRSA2questThe PRSA copy is more evidence that “media training” has become a catchall phrase that refers to any type of public speaking training. But there are distinct differences between media and presentation training. Comparing the two is somewhat like comparing a dictionary to a thesaurus. Both are useful writing tools and yet each serves a very different purpose.

These are the key differences in presentation and media training:

  • Speaker or presentation training helps you to learn the skills and techniques to deliver your key messages to an audience of any size.
  • In contrast, media training helps you learn skills and techniques to deliver your messages in an interview with a reporter.

Presentation Training

Presentation training, whether for an engagement before 10 to 10,000 people or across a conference room table, enhances your ability to:

  • Analyze your audience and their information needs
  • Organize an effective presentation
  • Understand when to use notes, a script, or speak extemporaneously
  • Augment your talk with appropriate visual aids

Equally important, the training helps you learn how to:

  • Overcome stage fright
  • Inject your personality and experience into your speech
  • Connect with your audience through your voice, gestures and eye contact
  • Persuade your audience to trust you and take the desired action

Media Interview Training

Media training, teaches you the skills and techniques to communicate your messages in an interview. Think of the reporter as the conduit or gatekeeper to the audience you want to reach in print, on TV and, increasingly on social media. If you don’t convince the reporter that you have something newsworthy to say, then it’s unlikely he will use your interview.

A typical media interview coaching session should demystify the process of meeting the press and teach you the differences between print, radio, phone, and TV interviews.

You should learn:

  • Techniques to communicate your key messages
  • The ground rules of interviews
  • How to get in your messages no matter what the reporter asks
  • How to work within the reporter’s interview style

The training should also help you learn:

  • How to handle a “hostile” interviewer
  • Get feedback during the interview to assess the reporter’s understanding
  • Avoid “yes” and “no” answers
  • Develop an ongoing relationship with a reporter by pointing him to other experts and sending information he can use

When You Are in Control

In a presentation, you control the content that you are delivering to a captive audience. In a media interview, you can’t control the reporter or the presentation of a story, or even be guaranteed the story will ever be used.

So, to answer the question posed in the headline: yes, it does matter that you receive the proper training, based on the situation. If you are making a presentation, the techniques are different from what you need to learn about a media interview to give you the best shot at seeing your words come to life in print, broadcast or social media

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