Monday, September 23, 2013

Becoming a Professional MVP: The Press Conference

By: Patrick Gallagher

Imagine for thirty seconds you are the Head Coach of a top-tier Division 1 program and have been called to the stage after a high-profile match up for the post-game press conference. Your job in this very moment: answer questions from the media. Coach, how do you think your team played tonight? What made you decide to use that final timeout with so much time still left in the game? Where would you rate your performance tonight?

We all know the media can be relentless when given an open forum to pepper questions at the person on stage. Let’s face it; this is their momentary opportunity to gather as much information they can from you related to the sequence of events throughout the game. While some questions received can be light-hearted and easy to address, we can all agree that most of the questions will actually be tough, thought-provoking, convoluted and sometimes uncomfortable to answer. Either way, you are still required as the Coach to stand behind that podium and provide at least a response – no matter how concise or long-winded it may be – to those members of the media. This responsibility of addressing the media is a known industry standard and if you are not prepared to meet the challenge, you will not be well received.

Now take the next thirty seconds and think very specifically on how you leave your current place of work every single day. Is it a quick log-off from your computer coupled with a few ‘have a good night’ sayings as you walk out the door? Maybe you don’t even interact with people as you leave the office but just give a couple head nods to the people you consider work friends? That doesn’t seem that hard or challenging at all – especially when compared to how the Head Coach has to complete his or her day of work, right?  Well, what if your responsibility at the end of the day was to hold a press conference? Your job in this very moment: answer questions from your boss and colleagues. Sir, how do you think your performance was today? Miss, what made you decide to spend thirty minutes on social media websites? Where would you rate your work effort for today?

In short, stop approaching your work day as if you are only going in to check off some items on a list to appease your superiors. Instead, act as if you have to stand in front of a podium before you clock out for your very own press conference. Remember, if you are not prepared to meet the challenge, you will not be well received. Take the following three key items into consideration so that every day you are ready to address those tough, thought-provoking and sometimes uncomfortable questions.


Doing something over and over again is the only way to learn to do something well, right? Then make sure you take ownership of the roles and responsibilities you have been assigned to within your organization. Prepare notes on what you are doing well while simultaneously taking the time to understand why you continue to make certain mistakes. More importantly, make sure you can speak clearly and explicitly on what your actual job entails. Practice saying out loud what you do over and over again so that you are prepared for those convoluted questions that come your way during the press conference. Confucius stated it best, “to know what you know and to know what you don’t know, that is real wisdom.”


In short, be honest with yourself and honest with your organization. As Thomas Jefferson said, “honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” Have integrity in everything that you do so that when you are called to the podium at the end of the day, you are able to answer those press conference questions with a clear conscious and sound state of mind.


Peggy Klaus, author of the book, Brag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing It, reminds us that there is an art to showcasing your talents without coming across insincere or arrogant. In essence, know the value of a good story and learn how to become a great story teller. Take a moment to write down your accomplishments, both professionally and personally, and practice delivering your narrative with enthusiasm and confidence. By using a subtle and story like approach, you will immediately start to see a difference in how people respond to your success. Having this skill is paramount when thinking about the dynamics of a press conference; and if you can master promoting yourself without sounding egotistical or self-centered, your professional growth will become a realized dream.


Patrick is a MS, Sport Management candidate at Drexel University anticipated to graduate in summer 2014. He is the Business and Operations Graduate Assistant for Drexel Athletics and is responsible for supporting the Administration and Operations staff of Drexel’s Athletic Cabinet this year. Gallagher graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, majoring in marketing and management, in May 2006 from Villanova University. During his enrollment, he was named Captain of the men’s varsity soccer team during his Sophomore year and was appointed President of SAAC. He is looking to use his professional experiences as a media sales consultant in New York for 6+ years coupled with his passion for sports to pursue a successful career in athletic administration. 

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