Finding someone to speak for your company can be a challenge. Not everyone has the ability to stand in front of strangers and clearly and concisely explain what is going on.
A strong, enigmatic spokesperson is vital if you want to build reputation and standing of your business. While they are important if you are trying to promote a new product or service as well as getting your company message out to the wider world, they are absolutely vital when things go wrong, especially when dealing with the media.
Experience & Training
A great spokesperson will have numerous personality traits that make them a good fit for the job at hand, whether good or bad news is on the agenda. These traits, plus experience and media training will ensure they can handle any questions put to them.
Here are our top 5 traits good spokespeople have in common:
While personality can be a little subjective, you want a spokesperson who gets on with a wide variety of people, has a gregarious nature and is good at holding a conversation. Their personality has to come across when they step in front of the cameras or onto a stage and they need to exude a certain amount of gravitas.
- Industry Knowledge
You can’t deliver on the role of spokesperson if you don’t know what you are talking about. That means having a good knowledge of the industry you are representing but also making sure you have a deep understanding of the current situation. A great spokesperson knows which questions will be asked and, more importantly, how they are going to be answered.
- Good Under Pressure
Public speaking of any type comes with a good deal of pressure and it’s not something everyone can cope with. If there has been a crisis in your business, for example, it takes a brave heart to stand up in front of a group of people who may have serious questions about integrity and reputation. A good spokesperson needs to be able to respond to pressure positively and keep a clear mind at the same time.
- Plain Speaking
The language you use as a spokesperson is also important. Most great speakers use plain language to get their points across. They’ll listen carefully to questions and answer as clearly and succinctly as possible. This is not always easy with complex situations and particularly where emotions can be heightened.
Finally, good speakers have a natural air of confidence that gives their words more impact. They don’t stumble over their dialogue or appear uncertain. Part of that comes from understanding the situation, part comes from being in tune with what they are doing and a big part comes from excellent training so they feel prepared.
While some of the personality traits needed for a successful spokesperson may have been developed over years, the impact of good training can’t be underestimated. There’s a lot that can be taught and which enables a person to deliver on the role. That can be something basic like identifying the company’s key messages to understanding how the media works, especially in situations that require crisis management.
While these basic character traits can provide the core framework for a good spokesperson, as with any part of working life, better training generally leads to better performance. It allows you to explore different scenarios, consider your own performance more critically and put in place processes that help you deal with a wide range of scenarios including those important high-pressure moments.