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“We’re the right people to represent BIG” – media training for BIG’s young people investment team

30 May 2012

Young people with trainersBy Kelsey Beninger, 24 and Craig Blake, 20

Being part of the Big Lottery Fund’s investment in young people team has brought a lot of opportunities and challenges since we began this journey in January. Recently half of our twenty-strong team had the opportunity to trek to Birmingham for a day of media training, hosted by the Media Trust.

The day brought with it so many opportunities to learn about speaking to the media. Like when some of us managed to do a mock radio interview without mentioning the actual name of the investment! We learned about the ‘curse of knowledge’ which basically means we are just too smart on the topics we have been living, sleeping and breathing for the better part of 2012 – we assume our listeners can translate our jargon and fill in the blanks of what we forget to include. Lesson learned, and practiced!

We picked up some practical tools like strategies on structuring our responses and how to ensure we always bring discussions with a journalist back to our key messages. These skills will help our team maximise the very short time frame we will have to capture our point when speaking to the media (from 10 seconds to 3 minutes!)

The real dreaded moment, for me at least, was practicing a TV interview and then watching it being played back and critiqued with the group. Why is it you are fine with being captured on a camera phone passionately singing an 80’s ballad with your mates but when you are filmed speaking about a serious topic your skin is too blotchy, your voice sounds too pitchy and you have the look of a deer in the headlights?

Needless to say, it was good practice, not only for potential TV interviews but also for challenging our own fears about being featured in the public domain and recognising that each of us brings unique and relatable characteristics to our interviews.

Craig, a member of the team, participated and reflects on the challenges he overcame during the day. He said, “Having a speech impediment, I have always been self conscious of my speaking and was dreading this part of the day before I even turned up.”

Once engaged in the sessions, he learned he had little to fear. “The Media Trust trainers were very good at providing constructive criticism, and my team were supportive in convincing me that the speech impediment was not as noticeable as I thought it would be! In a way, hearing and watching myself was very beneficial as it allowed me to experiment within a safe environment and try things l had not tested, like different facial expressions and hand movements. I now feel more confident in speaking to the media on behalf of BIG.”

In addition to challenging our fears about being seen in the public domain, and learning useable tools, the day brought with it a newfound confidence for our team. We have all been spokespeople for young people since before getting involved in the investment design, and are all passionate and dedicated to improving the lives of young people. Because of this, we’re in the right place to be spokespeople for BIG in the media, as BIG is about to launch a strategy that we hope will bring lasting and genuine support and opportunities to UK youth. The training made us all feel more confident about talking about our soon-to-be-announced investment to journalists on both regional and national stages.

We are now in a better position to engage with journalists, answer questions confidently and comprehensively, and maximise our ability to secure coverage to make the scheme a success.

Follow #BIGyp on Twitter or like our Facebook page to keep up to date with how we’re getting on.

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