Aug 11, 2012

Presenting at a Corporate Press Conference

Recently I was part of a press conference. This post captures my thoughts on how one should prepare and speak at a corporate press conference. If you are going to speak at a press conference this post will be of special interest to you.

I will begin with four main lessons.

1. Your audience (the print and electronic media) is short of time. They want you to quickly wrap up your presentation. So keep your content very short and simple. Total presentation time should not be more than 15 minutes.

2. The stakes are very high at a press conference. No company can afford to be caught on the wrong foot. That is why, you need to prepare well for all possible questions. The media will ask you questions and you need to answer them promptly.

3. Plan your content well. Press conference is organised so that media will talk about you. So that TV channels say what you want them to say and newspapers write what you want them to write. Hence you need to know what is it that you want the press to write and what you want TV channels to say.

4. The media will say what you want them to say if they understand you and believe you. Credibility is most crucial in a press conference. There are enough people who doubt you. You need to shut them up. Support your claims with proper data.

Time is always a constraint at a press conference. My experience with Indian media is that they are always busy and want you to complete your speech fast. Every company has a printed press kit which contains the press release. Press release talks about what the conference is all about. Since they have the press release they don't really need to sit through your one hour presentation. You want to use this opportunity to share your decades of achievement but your audience does not care so much. They have come for the news. Give them the news and give them quick. Give it to them in a manner which excites them. Then only will it get covered the following day.

Since time is a constraint you can say more in less time by using a video. Convert your presentation into a short audio-visual film. All you need to do is to add a good voice over and your presentation will now finish early. Add some music, photos and decent effects and you have your audience's attention. Take professional help because the situation demands it.

Preparing for questions is extremely important in a press conference. Media will always ask you questions and most of the times the questions can be tricky. You know why your company is doing the press conference and sitting with your team you can list down most of the questions which you can be asked. Decide who will answer these questions and what will be the answers. As you gain experience,  your preparation time will keep coming down.

Planning the content is perhaps the trickiest job. You have only 15 minutes and you need to complete your story. If you are playing your 5 minute long corporate film, the you are left with 10 minutes only. So where do you start? Start with the end in mind. What do you want the newspapers to write tomorrow? Write down that statement on a piece of paper. That is the main take-away for your audience. For this to be the take-away what will you tell them. Try to tell them only three main things. Now figure out how to say these three things. Also make sure you repeat the main take-away a few times. This will ensure it gets registered with the audience well.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos


  1. Thanks Geetesh. I have personally experienced two press conferences and this post captures my learning.

  2. Very good blog, I agree that presentations to Corporate needs to be more precise.

  3. It was very informative. But, what approach should be taken when we have a bad news and we want the press to be favorable?

  4. @ayyappa

    Have not thought of such a situation. Why dont you share an example. Without an example, a generic answer would be - share the bad news but share the reasons how you did not cause it (eg. external factors, etc.).

  5. Thanks for this valuable information. But I have a doubt that if we are a new business and calling press conference for the first time then how can we get the confidence of media

  6. Interesting question Deepak. If you are calling a Press Conference, then you have to have something important to share. This is the key.

    The media is hungry for news and if you have it for them, that's good enough. Package the news well so it is exciting and easy to understand. It must be valuable to readers, only then will media write about it.

    At the Press Conference, make sure you put the best foot forward. Share things about the company which sets you apart. You ought to have something worth showcasing.

  7. Thanks for the valuable information. But when a company's credibility is in doubt due to the misinterpretations of last press release by the media, then how we should prepare for the press conference in a situation where company and media is not in a good terms ?

  8. Vivek, If there is a situation like a quality issue in the brake or transmission of a car, and we are required to recall an entire batch of cars. How can we approach the media with this news?

  9. @ayyappa

    This situation is not normal and the news is just too negative. I don't think I can help you with a ready-made answer on the blog. It deserves a much longer discussion and a deeper understanding of the brand in question.

  10. @Vysakh

    This is not a welcome situation. The only way out is to come clean at the very start. Accept the mistake and move take them into confidence. Honesty builds connect. Accept you have failed them but will never do that again. After having said this, live upto the promise.