I recently attended a talk dedicated to helping engineers better talk and interact with public media. The speaker was enthused and passionate, but she couldn’t explain how to conquer the nerves that engineers face when suddenly in front of a camera, a microphone and a reporter.
Out of respect for the speaker I didn’t make my suggestion, but I would like to make it here. After all, it’s not just engineers who experience the gut-dropping, knee-knocking, palm-sweating terror when being interviewed by media. It’s pretty much all of us.
Sure, some people are used to it from past experiences or a special personality, but the rest of us are stuck tongue tied the moment that little ‘recording’ light blinks on.
This is no good if we’re trying to publicize an event, rally for a cause or otherwise promote our company, brand or efforts.
The media can be a huge boon to small businesses and there’s a lot of interest in local entrepreneurs. Appearances on the news give your company great free exposure and some delightful credibility. Of course you’ll want to keep your pitches to reporters focused on their own needs, but that’s a different article.
How do you conquer your fear and speak eloquently in front of a camera?
Ok, practicing in front of a live camera crew might be out, but there are many places you can take up classes for public speaking (both prepared speeches and impromptu). In additional to official college courses, business development classes and purchasable adult education there’s also my personal favorite solution: Toastmasters.
There are tons of Toastmasters clubs everywhere, and if you don’t have a local club, you could start one, the process is affordable and fairly easy. Joining an existing club runs usually less than $50 for six months, very reasonable. I personally suggest joining a one-a-week club, but travel around and visit several groups as a guest to find the best cultural fit for you.
Toastmasters practices both impromptu (table topics) and practiced (speeches) public speaking, a year membership has done wonders for me!
If you’re in the Louisville, KY area and looking for a club, I invite you to check out Club 5104, St. Matthews/Lyndon.
If you’re not in the area, you can look up other club options at the Toastmasters International website.