Five key skills for a good spokesperson? Read our blog

Five key skills for a good spokesperson? Read our blog

Five key skills for a good spokesperson? Read our blog

Five key skills for a good spokesperson? Read our blog

BLOG - Five key skills for a good spokesperson

As a spokesperson for a company or organization, conveying the right message is not enough. Various personal skills determine its impact. Karolien Hessels, Managing Director and media trainer at Charly PR Benelux, shares five indispensable qualities of a good spokesperson. Each with examples of actual spokespeople.


1. Be Empathetic

As a good spokesperson, you need a well-developed sense of empathy and an understanding of the audience. This allows you to empathize with the needs, concerns and expectations of different target groups, and to tailor your messages accordingly. Only then will it resonate.

In practice:

An excellent example in this regard is Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, after the terrorist attacks in Christchurch. She shared the nation's grief with a human touch, making her an effective and credible representative of the people.

the CEO of BP, Tony Hayward, is also someone we’ll never forget, but for the wrong reasons. After the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, he ruined an interview with the conclusion "I also want my life back". This lack of respect for the local population who had lost everything, was met with fierce criticism from around the globe.


2. Be authentic, genuine, and transparent

Regardless of your story, your audience quickly detects insincerity. Even with challenging topics, it's better to be open about your feelings than to hide behind rehearsed messages. Authenticity, genuineness and transparency create a stronger connection between your audience and your message, boosting trust and credibility.

In practice:

Michelle Obama, the former First Lady of the United States, is often praised for her authentic and transparent communication style. She openly discusses personal experiences, challenges and victories, fostering a sincere connection with her audiences.

Sarah Schlitz, however, displayed a lack of these qualities. First, the Belgian politician lied in parliament about the use of her personal logo on websites of organizations funded by her office. This forced her to resign. Her subsequent attempt to divert attention from herself with an unconvincing and unrelated rant about sexist violence baffled everyone. This totally backfired, as it made her the talk of the town instead.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte also faced criticism. In Groningen, he was listening to residents hit by the earthquake. But when he was informed that he was at the wrong house, he just turned and left in the middle of the story, making his sympathy seem like an act


3. Be Consistent and Composed

In challenging situations, maintaining control over your message is crucial. So keep your composure both in content and body language, radiating calmness, confidence, trust and stability. However, make sure to balance this with empathy and authenticity to avoid coming across like a cold robot.

In practice

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel excels in this aspect, communicating consistently, calmly and clearly, even during crises. This instills trust among the public.

Belgian politician Gwendolyn Rutten, on the other hand, reacted poorly to missing out on a ministerial position. Bitterly she blamed her party when announcing the end of her political career. When only a few weeks later, she happily accepted another minister position, her initial impulsive response was criticized and even ridiculed.


4. Be prepared

Well-prepared spokespeople respond to every question without losing sight of the key messages. They think quickly, analytically, adapt to different scenarios, and seize opportunities. That is partly a gift of nature, but also very much a matter of practice and preparation. But make sure to combine that with the previous tips, because…

In practice

You don’t want to come across like the spokesperson for Blokker years ago. He had practiced that one key message to 'make Blokker big again' a tad too much. He gave the same answer over and over again, even when that was totally irrelevant (as seen here). At the same time, he was unprepared for very evident questions, about the fate of the laid-off employees for example. As a result, Blokker came across as a cold organization.

Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia, perfectly embodied this quality when AirAsia Flight QZ8501 disappeared. His preparation resulted in quick, transparent and accurate communication with the public, the families of the victims and the media. Genuine crisis management for which he and AirAsia received much praise.


5. Pay attention to your non-verbal communication

No matter how strong the message, if it’s contradicted by your non-verbal communication, it won’t stick. Body language, facial expressions, gestures—they all play a crucial role, so you need to keep them under control. This gives you a confident, empathetic, and open attitude that leaves a positive impression. Add some charisma to the mix, and you'll certainly have your audience on your side.

In practice:

As a true Benelux agency, we just have to talk about the Belgian and Dutch royals. They have been compared for years—the friendly and jovial Dutch royal couple and their much more formal Belgian counterpart. But didn't we say earlier that practice pays off? That’s what King Philippe of Belgium clearly did. He has largely shed his stiff and clumsy image in favor of a steadfast and confident man.

A spokesperson has many things to manage simultaneously—all the aforementioned qualities are equally important and complement each other. Some are ‘natural born spokespeople’, while others need to work a bit harder to get there. But we believe that everyone can become a good spokesperson. All you need is a good and tailored media training: learning it all from scratch or practicing and improving existing skills, everything is possible.

And contrary to what many think, a (good) media training is much more than endlessly practicing your messages. Our trainings also focus on the skills in this blog.

Want to know more about Charly PR's media training? Check out our offer or

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