It’s a PR pro’s nightmare: Having to take the stage and address an audience on short notice. A crisis, mistake, tragedy, or other unexpected twist of fate can thrust communications professionals, corporate leaders, or others who must speak for an organization before the microphones—whether or not they’re ready.
The next time you or your client is unprepared, review these tips. They’re simple, yet effective. And they work in front of almost any audience, whether that means donors, taxpayers, stockholders, or reporters.
1. Assume the microphone is live. Always.
2. Showing some emotion can be powerful—and effective.
3. Scripts and messaging matter. But humans deliver them. And that matters even more.
4. Be honest. Liars who deny they’re fibbing end up suffering deeper humiliation and more devastating consequences.
5. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself.
6. Authenticity can’t be faked or taught, and the audience knows when it’s present.
7. Pausing to reflect for a moment, and then continuing, is perfectly okay. A gaffe can be deadly. A thoughtful pause can be a lifeline.
8. When expressing regret, be, sound and look sorry. People who say they’re sorry “if they offended anyone” are reoffending — right then.
9. Show graciousness in public. (And see #1 and #8 before unloading in “private”).