I recently had the opportunity to present as a guest speaker at a Communications Summit in Tempe, Arizona. The idea with this summit was to offer participants an opportunity to get a refresher course on all things communications, as part of re-entry back into the work place as we continue to push for normalcy during COVID. Topics included “Brand Storytelling” with Park Howell, “Curing Death by PowerPoint” with Deb Ostreicher, and “Better Media Interviews” with yours truly. With Park and Deb in attendance, truly an all-star line-up in the communications business.

A couple of quick observations:

During my twelve years of media training and on-camera messaging coaching, this was the first time I presented as part of a series with peers in similar, yet different areas of expertise. It was truly fascinating and eye-opening to see other professionals present in their own unique ways, Deb appeared in the slot before me, Park in the time slot right after me, and I am so grateful to have an opportunity to watch both of their presentations. The energy and cadence of both presenters different than mine own (in a good way), the way they engage their audience also different, and the tools they use very different. As an example, Deb’s focus on the powerpoint presentation obviously included powerpoint slides-something I have never used, while Park gave out branded notebooks which included a homework assignment for participants to complete during his presentation. Very cool.

But along with the differences in techniques and tools were some striking similarities. All three of us emphasized the importance of story, clarity, and efficiency in our respected areas of expertise. We often used the same words and language to describe communications process-whether for the news media, powerpoint presentation, or business story-telling. Deb teachers the “rule of three” when it comes to how many messages should be on a single powerpoint slide, a concept I have been selling to my media training clients for years (focus on three primary messages when doing a news interview).

But maybe the most striking similarity I discovered was the storytelling concepts Park and I use to help train our clients. Park teachers a concept known as “about, but, therefore” to help craft stories for his business clients. Without giving away any of his proprietary secrets, lets just say it very closely mirrors my “E-R-A” media training concept, which stands for empathy, reality and action to help navigate difficult questions.

If you haven’t done so, I would highly recommend attending a colleagues workshop. Even after many many years, you can still learn new things and get affirmation from the best in the business.

Rich Dubek is a two-time Emmy award winning TV news reporter with more than twenty five years of news media experience at the local and network level. He is President of the Dubek Media Group, specializing in expert media training messaging, and on-air coaching, and full service video production. The Dubek Media Group is based in Tempe, Arizona.