What are the traits that define ‘greatness’?  Is this a ‘gift’ you are born with or something you can learn?

In researching this topic I landed upon a blog by Brad Phillips who is the author of the Mr. Media Training Blog and president of Phillips Media Relations (specialising in media and presentation training).  His article focuses on the top six qualities that make a great spokesperson.

His observations were astute and intelligent, saying irrespective of cause, ideology or style, ‘media greats’ share similar straits.

What he then goes onto to say is that we all, almost certainly possess the same qualities and with a bit of polish and practice, can become good public speakers and spokespeople.

The first trait is authenticity.  An audience might not agree with what the person has to say, but can tell if that person is authentic and believes in their own message.  It shines through.  This is very much the case when watching some politicians talk.  You may not believe in their ‘party’, but if the person is a quality speaker, you just might  be compelled to listen.

The second is natural passion.  Phillips believes that the best spokespeople are those that live and breathe their message or walk the walk and talk the talk.  They are the same on camera as off and their passion is the same at home as when they are delivering a speech or giving an interview.

Third is flexibility.  This is very important.  Not always everything goes to plan – be it technical hiccups or breaking / shifting news.  The spokesperson will have far more sway with his or her audience when they show a calm persona and roll with the punches – perhaps even show a touch of humour.

Fourth is connecting with the audience.  The ability to communicate directly with the audience in a style that is engaging – instead of perhaps saying the things people or those higher up want you to say.  In other words, no lip service allowed.

Fifth is the ability to self-edit.   This is a skill for spokespeople who are often required,  in their communication, to simplify a message, rather than dumb it down. You cannot always say everything, as doing so will complicate, confuse and bore the audience to sleep.

Finally, the sixth trait is expressing points in a compelling manner.  These people know how to make a mark with their audience using entertaining or interesting anecdotes, statistics and hard-hitting sound bites.  They are very good at coining phrases that stick in everyone’s minds.

Think about the political slogans and mantras of recent times, Obama’s “Yes we can”, Gillard’s “Moving forward” and Newman’s “Time for change”.    And then there’s the case of incessant repetition – personally, I liken it to a shovel on cement.  Have you noticed how certain political leaders of this country often repeat themselves when putting across a point.  And then there is the ‘Johnny’ standing directly behind he or she, nodding incessantly, eyes to camera, like this is the best thing they have ever heard – spare me!

Take small steps – start with a short and sweet message that is well rehearsed and convincing – practice your ‘news grabs’ and commit them to memory – if all else fails, you can draw on those just like the politicians do when they don’t want to answer a curly questions.  Practice this and before you know it, you will be on your way to greatness.

One final piece of advice – know your stuff – if you know your stuff, you will be less likely to stuff up.


About Pip Miller, Pip Miller PR

Pip Miller is a publicist, content producer and stylist in her home town of Cairns.  She also happens to be a mum of five children ranging in age from six to 19.  Her business, Pip Miller PR was established in 1994 and will celebrate its 21st anniversary in June.  With experience comes understanding and Pip is adept in the art of bringing a story to life, along with the importance of good quality photographs and imagery.

This knowledge has also helped nurture a styling career that began almost 30 years ago when she cut her teeth in the world of media  as a cadet journalist with Australian Consolidated Press.