Politicians are some of the most untrustworthy and unpopular people in Australia. As a media trainer, I never encourage people to act like them. But despite their reputation, they do use some great media tactics that you can adopt and adapt (as long as you infuse it with sincerity and authenticity).

Our newest Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, gave his first speech as the leader of the Liberal Party last week. And within that 10-minute talk, I was able to pick out some media tips that you can use for your next interview.

But before I take you through this example, I want to say that Good Talent Media observes both sides of politics with a view to highlighting the good, bad and ugly. This post isn’t a debate about politics, so let’s put aside the commentary on our revolving door of prime ministers for another day.

This is about how media training can help you.

So let’s get started. If you haven’t watched Morrison’s speech yet, you can view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIaS6x7DxbY.

Here are 4 ways Morrison used media training to help his speech make an impact.

  1. Breaking the fourth wall isn’t just for movies.

The opening line of Morrison’s speech was: “There’s been a lot of talk this week about whose side people are on in this building, and what Josh and I are here to tell you, as the new generation of Liberal leadership, is we’re on your side”.

It’s towards the end of that line that he breaks the fourth wall. He could have said, ‘we’re on the side of the Australian public’, as you often hear politicians announce, but instead, he used ‘your side’. Rather than talking to the reporters, he’s talking to us, the audience: to mothers, fathers, carers, farmers, families, workers, voters and anyone who votes Liberal. He’s connecting directly with this audience to make sure they feel that he is one of them.

On that note…

  1. Speak directly to your audience, not the person holding the camera

By this, I mean that too often, spokespeople get caught up in speaking to the reporter, camera, or microphone, rather than the intended audience. These mediums are conduits to relay your message to your audience. It gives you a purpose and, as in the above example, it helped Morrison connect directly with an Australian public who are collectively appalled by the behaviour of its representatives and no longer believe they have any interest in them or their wellbeing.

  1. Sound bites are better than white noise.

Speaking in sound bites is necessary, because it is very difficult for the audience to hear, comprehend and remember the spoken word via broadcast media first time, every time. That’s why as a spokesperson, using sound bites and simplistic language is important to engage your audiences.

In a speech designed to appeal to Liberal voters, he went on to say, “If you have a go in this country, you’ll get a go.” This line or sound bite clearly suggests his party shares their values of supporting small businesses and the aspirational classes.

This sentence also put him at odds with welfare recipients and those who support this system, and he continued to widen this gap by saying that his government, like many Australian families, “[sic] are…here to make a contribution rather than take one.” You might disagree with his politics, but by using very simplistic, values-laden and emotive language, this works as a rally call to all conservatives to continue supporting him and the party, despite the mess they’re clearly in.

(All of the above happened 2.08 minutes into a 9:51 speech.)

  1. Make it easy for them to see your point.

At the 6.20 mark of the press conference he said, “My immediate priorities in addition to our economic and national security is the drought…this is our most urgent and pressing need right now.”

‘Immediate priority’ and ‘urgent and pressing need’ are flagging terms. Flagging words are adjectives used to highlight essential points. These tell the audience that what he’s saying is important and will be acted on. They tell journalists what should be the story lead.

He then went on to explain what immediate drought actions will be taken, including coordinating with the states, the Nationals and meeting National Drought co-ordinator Major General Stephen Day.

You might not have watched the coverage moment to moment, but for if you did, you would have got the main messages quickly. Delivering simple, audience-focused messages also allowed news rooms to get the messages (which make up the news) out across all social, radio, TV and online platforms. This is what journalists need, and if you give it to them, they will use it.

The news cycle rewards you if you know how to work it.

Bottom Line

So, despite how you vote, our new Prime Minister did some things right in one of the biggest media moments of his life:

  • He broke the fourth wall and spoke directly to an audience who shares his values.
  • He used simple, jargon-free, easy-to-remember language.
  • He made his key focus clear by flagging a key action point.
  • He made his main points straight away.

Using these tactics will help you get your message across in your next media interview. Who knows? Perhaps they will help you in your next media speech.


What other tactics do you see politicians use to reach their audience?

Tell us below in the comments section.

Want to get your staff media-ready?

We provide media training led by experienced journalist Tony Nicholls, who has covered international stories and worked for many of Australia’s major news networks. Find out more about the types of training we offer here.

Tony Nicholls

Tony Nicholls

Founder and Director of Good Talent Media

Tony Nicholls is an accomplished journalist who has held roles for more than ten years with the ABC, SBS and Network Ten, covering thousands of news stories across Victoria, Australia and in the international media.


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