If one’s a corporate spokesperson, in communication, or an executive, one learns about “talking points”. It’s a guide on what to say and what not to say. For executives who are not comfortable with public speaking, there are training activities on delivery. This way, one gets the message across effectively, is not misquoted, or does not end up confusing his/her publics as if he/she were drunk.
Talking points are key points or facts about the issue at hand. For example- what’s the product, it’s uses, it’s advantages over another product, its limitations if any, its availability, its price etc.
It cannot be helped that one uses jargon sometimes. But one must always try to explain jargon in a manner that regular, college educated people will understand. An aqueduct, for example, is just a bridge to convey water over an obstacle. It’s a turn-off to hear spokespersons talking Dothraki like Khaleesi, mother of dragons. Talk in plain English and get the message across. It’s actually sad when no one understands you.
Then there are disclosures. What are you exactly allowed to disclose that won’t put your company out of business? Can you divulge that your product has certain limitations? A smart corporate spokesperson or executive does his/her homework so that he/ she would know what to say when issues about limitations or weaknesses arise.
There are questions that one has to anticipate and prepare for like performers who rehearse until they have perfected their act. It takes great maturity, skill and experience to know how to respond to difficult questions and deflect.
Lastly, there are certain things that one does not openly talk about. Things better left within the confines of the board room. Things better discussed over drinks. This includes gossip, or strategies to win over a difficult regulator, or other proprietary information.
Sometimes, it’s dangerous to talk too much, to talk without thinking, or appear to know a lot. One might end up jeopardizing not only his/ her career but hurt his/ her company’s reputation as well. Therefore, a smart corporate spokesperson must practice restraint. Less talk = less mistake. One can always say, “I’ll get back to you” – and do so with the right spiel.
*Originally published in 2014 in my WTCBU blog