One day, I was conducting a media training session in my New York City studio and it was with the premier of Bermuda, the top politically elected leader of the country. We were doing a sample press conference and I do what I always do. I ask questions, we record it, we play it back, we critique it. I said, Mr. Prime Minister, what about and I asked some sort of generic tough question. I'll never forget his answer. He said, I reject the premise of your question.
It's a ridiculous question. Next question. With an angry look on his face. We went to the next question. We finished out that little segment. And I pulled aside his aid wants I said, is that really how he answers the questions?
He said, Yes. I said, Does he ever do interviews? Yeah. He does dozens of interviews every single week. What was his profession before he entered politics. He ran a public relations firm.
Just shocked. Now I quickly showed him that that isn't in his advantage to answer questions that way. It's confrontational makes it look like he's hiding something creates a clash with reporters. And what I coached him to do what I coach all my clients to do is not to dodge questions, but to simply focus on the part of the premise of the question you can deal with, and answer it in your own positive terms. Or if someone says something you think is flatly wrong, you could say, actually, and then state what you do believe and let the person deduce you don't agree with their premise. This way.
There's no confrontation. You're not saying then quotable off message, and it doesn't seem like you're on the defensive anytime you're defending with the media, you're basically losing. Show them that technique. Complete difference, complete sea change. Of how he came across it turned press conferences from adverts adversarial, contentious to smooth, pleasant affairs. So remember, if you hear a question you don't like, that's okay.
But rewrite it in your own brain. Don't tell the reporter you think the premise is ridiculous. Just alter the premise to one you think is fair and honest and answer that. Okay, what do they do with that story? What I was trying to do is convey that even someone who's really experienced in the media, even someone with a background in public relations when they get in front of the cameras can do things horribly. So don't assume just because your boss or your boss's boss has been doing this for 10 or 20 years, or has a certain position or title or rank or salary, that they're good at it.
In my experience. There are people in all different aspects of The corporate world government political world, who simply aren't very good at certain aspects of presenting to the media, they need to learn new skills to do it effectively. That was the message