If you are giving a speech at a press conference, remember it is both a speech and a media appearance. You must figure out the goals that you are trying to accomplish with this press conference. Then prepare according to the topic and rehearse. The press conference is primarily about the press and audience. It is about the people at home or offices watching you on TV or reading about what you say in newspapers and websites. You have to think about the sound bites that will be taken out of your conversation for TV, radio, or newspaper. It is more than just a simple speech. Some people spend too much time preparing a long speech and forget about the real goal: to communicate with the news media’s audience. Even though it feels like a speech, and in some way is like a speech, there are some points that make it more than a regular speech. The news media listen to your speech from a very different viewpoint. They are looking at framing the story by pulling some quotes out of your talk to make the news more interesting.
Set Your Goals
Before writing your speech, first, think about your goals for the press conference. What outcome do you want? Which of your messages will go into the final story on the news?
You have to package the speech with messages that fulfill your objectives. Typically, it is better to stay in one place during the press conference rather than walking around the stage. In this way, the cameras and mics are set in one place smoothly and uninterruptedly.
You must reach your main point in about 3 minutes. Sprinkle some good and clear soundbites. Then in the end, take questions. Don’t lose your focus on the message and talk in a way that creates obvious soundbites that preserve your main story. So, write down your messages that will drive the people to action.
Don’t Read the Speech
When you are speaking at a press conference, it is lovely to have some notes. But reading the speech is not an excellent way to represent yourself. Cameras capturing you looking down on a piece of paper and reading from it does not seem credible or authentic. It gives a feeling that you don’t know the content you are talking about neither do you believe in it. It will seem that you don’t have any passion for it. You can read names or very specific information from paper to avoid telling the facts wrong. You may have to read some parts of the speech, but you must have eye communication with the audience for the central part of the message. The talk you do must have the message and soundbites for the journalists to put the story together. You need to look up and talk with passion and conviction. Otherwise, you minimize your chances of getting good TV or radio coverage. When most people read, their voice goes flat and monotone. It does not sound lively and engaging. You will appear much more believable and quotable when looking up and having communication with the audience.
Be Cautious About the Backdrop
Give a thought to what Backdrop you can have in your press conference to make your story more impressive. Boring, generic hotel and conference rooms have nothing interesting for the video cameras. Unless you are a high authority official having big news that will affect many people, think about the Backdrop of your conference. Talking about water pollution issues besides a lake filled with waste may be significantly more impactful than a press conference in a generic conference room. Here you can spotlight the issue also. What is behind you can augment the message in a way that is not plain and generic.
Get to The Point Soon
A press conference is different from a typical speech where you have an opening story, build a certain rhythm, and then complete your story. A press conference does not go in this way. Just jump right in and say exactly what you want to in the beginning. The first minute must be exciting and engaging. Give the exciting start as soon as possible, and don’t wait for the reporters to ask questions about it. You must give the answers to the most obvious question in the beginning.
If in the unlikely event that nobody shows up in the press conference, make a recording of your press conference speech, and you can get coverage on it from TV, radio, or social media. Don’t fabricate or pretend to have an audience, but just because nobody showed up doesn’t mean you can’t have coverage out of it.
Rehearse on Video for The Press Conference
Give the speech and record the whole thing. Then answer a question that is most probable to be asked in the end. If you do not have anyone else, ask yourself a question and then answer. It may sound silly, but it will help you in the press conference. Rehearse in the most similar way the press conference is going to take place. If you are going to be standing, rehearse in the same position, if you are going to sit record in a sitting position. Review it critically. Find out what you liked and disliked in the video. Repeat it and keep recording until you like what you see. It may take one quick rehearsal to do that, or it may take 50 to 100 attempts. It does not matter how many times you try, unless you are short of time. The results are important in the end.
A press conference is not something to do every day unless you have some particular designation. Still, a press conference is an effective way of really focusing on an issue you think deserves a lot of media coverage. It is a tool to get excellent coverage, but you must prepare for it appropriately. You must have a good speech and sound bites and get to the point across in 3 minutes. Give solid messages in the first minute. Rehearse on video until you like what you see. It will make you more comfortable with answering the questions.