Media Training for Leaders: And Why It’s Not Enough

When people ask me why I decided to leave journalism in order to become a media trainer and coach, I admit it’s not easy to answer. Journalism has been the love of my life, and I still believe in the society-changing power of the media. This profession taught me so much. Then, why did I leave?

Diplomatically I would say I felt I could make a bigger difference somewhere else. In truth the answer is much simpler: depth. As digitalization has been taking a bigger toll every day on the quality and depth of media coverage, my need for work with a higher purpose was less and less fulfilled in the newsroom.

On the other side, people on our post-communist markets are just beginning to get closer to themselves and discover the opportunities that good communication can bring into their lives. An increasing number of leaders are starting to glimpse the infinite possibilities of self-awareness. This is my place, I told myself; using my journalistic skills to assist such people on their path to self-discovery is my greater goal and my higher purpose.

Communication – the tip of the iceberg

When I started training people in media skills, I had numerous tips and tricks to share with my clients. However, I often reached a limit that surprised me: my client would ask me why should they talk to the media. Why should they develop skills for something they dread in the first place? To me, a former business reporter, this question was outrageous: how can you, in a leadership position, not talk to the media?

Yet, getting to know them better, I realized communication was just the tip of the iceberg. These people who are permanently under the pressure of KPIs and stumbling clientele have often difficulties to see the forest for the trees. In order to conduct media training that works, I needed to learn to go deeper – to plunge into the waters beneath the iceberg, there, in those dark spaces of personal motivation, dread and fear. What I found there was totally worth the ice-cold plunge.

What do leaders fear most in communication?

1. Making mistakes

Everybody is afraid of making silly mistakes that could ruin their careers. However, the possibility of making such mistakes in front of the camera that would be immortalized forever can turn the most skillful public speaker into a resistant communicator.

2. The superficial fraud

Many leaders analyze their media performances through the eyes of their industry peers. What if someone in my rank would perceive me as a superficial phony? How is that going to impact my business?

3. Paralysis

Sometimes going to speak in front of a camera at 10 p.m. after a day of managing a crisis – and still looking fresh and self-confident – can be quite a challenge. The prospect of becoming paralyzed and unable to articulate comprehensible messages in front of millions of viewers can be an inhibitor for many communicators, particularly for those who overreact when pushed to the corner.

4. Losing control

For someone who’s permanently in charge and has an army of respectful employees at his command, dealing with an unpredictable journalist can be quite confronting. The fact that somebody else has control over your message and there isn’t much you can do about it can benumb many gifted leaders.

5. Failure

Very few people in Central and Eastern Europe have been trained to see opportunity in breakdowns. Yet, for all of us being praised for our achievements is nurturing. So, why face failure when it can be avoided?

6. Ruining reputation

Many people put dozens of years into building the image of an impeccable manager, husband, wife, politician or athlete. Yet, it takes up to 30 seconds to ruin that – Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong or Oscar Pistorius could tell you their share on that one. What if under stress and the unforgiving lights of the camera your mask would fall off and the world would see you for who you really are? Could you withstand that fact?

7. Losing material well-being

At the end of the day, many leaders would join the media game and face their fears if only there was no material loss involved. Yet, if a mistake on camera could lead to losing their job, the pressure of having to explain it to their families is simply too much to bear. Endangering the source of income for a nice, easy family life and good education for children in the future is simply too much to bear. This is the moment when many people in charge prefer to say no and move on without the risks open communication could bring upon them.

It looks quite dark down there under the water, doesn’t it?

We can train for smiling in front of a camera and articulating memorized sentences as much as we please – we would only polish the tip of the iceberg. Powerful authentic communication comes only when you dare to plunge under the water with an open spirit. Along the way, you may discover a higher purpose for what you do that will hold you and back you up in the most stressful circumstances. This goes way beyond media communication – this takes you back to yourself. Ready for the ride?

HIS TEXT HAS FIRST BEEN PUBLISHED IN THE COLUMN MEDIAPOWER BY LEADERS MAGAZINE ON FEBRUARY 7, 2013 http://www.leadersmagazine.cz/2013/11/15/media-training-for-leaders-and-why-its-not-enough/

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The best way to gain, retain, and restore your critical distance as a woman CEO is to have a faithful guide, thought partner, and inspiring challenger by your side. This is what I am for women CEOs. If you are facing major developments in your business or in your career this year, we should talk. Please book or have your assistant book a no-strings-attached free 30-minute CEO exploration call with me; we will get to know each other and I will be thrilled to spot how I could be of your service in 2024 and beyond.
Cristina Muntean
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Let's Talk

The best way to gain, retain, and restore your critical distance as a woman CEO is to have a faithful guide, thought partner, and inspiring challenger by your side. This is what I am for women CEOs. If you are facing major developments in your business or in your career this year, we should talk. Please book or have your assistant book a no-strings-attached free 30-minute CEO exploration call with me; we will get to know each other and I will be thrilled to spot how I could be of your service in 2024 and beyond.