All posts by invisioncomms

InVision Turns 10 – Message from our CEO – Chris Roberts

By | Anniversary, How To & Advice, Uncategorized | No Comments

September 17th marks InVision’s ten year anniversary. Although the current work climate is somewhat challenging, I’ve enjoyed the adventures of the past decade as much as the 20 years I spent working on the TV News frontline. And no-one has tried to shoot me with my InVision hat on. Apart from the film we produced in Syria….but more on that later.


Setting up a business in 2010 was far from easy. Companies across the world were still reeling from the financial crash of 2008 and communications budgets were being slashed. Approaching clients in the hope of securing work was also a very sobering lesson for me on a personal level. For 20 years I had called people or press offices with the opening words “Hi. It’s Chris Roberts here from ITN/Sky News.” Even if they didn’t really want to talk to me, I was part of the media establishment and that meant they had to respond in some way. Cold calling or emailing when you’re looking for work is a completely different game. If I’m totally honest, I estimate less than 10% of the work InVision has delivered over the past ten years was actually generated by that kind of approach. 20 plus years in the media however had given me, and other members of the InVision team, the opportunity to build up a network of contacts across a wide range of industries. Those connections gave us a “foot in the door” and the chance to develop and grow working relationships.


I thought it might be fun to take a trip down memory lane this month and revisit some of the film projects I’m most proud of from the past decade. In my TV career I was handed a diverse variety of assignments and it’s been the same story with InVision. There was one month for instance where cameraman Simon Elsbury and I went from documenting the extraordinary work being done by an aid agency in Syria to filming in the Moët & Chandon cellars in Épernay. I’m immensely proud of both of those films but the contrast could hardly be greater.


We’ve helped charities raise their profiles and raise millions in donations. We’ve worked on campaign issues such as climate change and mental health. And we’ve filmed with luxury brands and celebrities.


We’ve evolved so much as a company over the past 10 years and continue to adapt in these changing times. We are supporting clients by delivering media training via Zoom/Microsoft Teams. Camera crews have also gone through Covid-19 training to ensure we offer the safest possible environment when filming. It’s been a rollercoaster at times and I’m sure the next decade will have its highs and lows as well. What will remain constant however is the love of storytelling that I, and the rest of the team at InVision bring to the work we do.


Chris Roberts, InVision Founder and C.E.O.

3 Is The Magic Number

By | Communication, How To & Advice | No Comments

For those of us of a certain age, the words “three is the magic number” open a time portal to 1989 and the hip hop classic recorded by De La Soul on their debut album. Back in the world of communications however, the rule of three is a writing principle that argues words or ideas grouped in threes are easier to remember and have more “audience appeal.”

The theory can be traced back to the Latin phrase “omne trium perfectum” (everything that comes in threes is perfect or every set of three is perfect). Staying with Latin references as supporting evidence, the Julius Caesar quote that sticks in the minds of most schoolchildren is “Veni, vidi, vici” or “I came, I saw, I conquered.”

Fast forward 2000 plus years and the government’s messaging during the coronavirus crisis is a perfect modern day example of this theory in action. “Stay Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.” Mark Read, the chief executive of the world’s biggest marketing agency WPP told The Telegraph newspaper “It has been effective because it is simple. It references our most cherished institution, the NHS, and because it calls for solidarity and collective action. It’s less an information campaign, more a rallying cry.” In very simple terms it’s memorable and the all important message is therefore constantly reinforced. The original draft was apparently along the lines of “Keep working but work from home if possible.” Well meaning but just a fraction of the impact eventually achieved.

During the December 2019 General Election campaign, there were times when it seemed Boris Johnson’s solitary message to voters was “Get Brexit Done”. Brexiteers themselves of course rallied around the battlecry “Take Back Control”. Further political examples include Tony Blair in 1996 – “Education, Education, Education” and Barack Obama’s brilliantly simple – “Yes We Can” in 2008.

Now we are on a roll, think of product advertising. Nike – “Just Do It”. Tesco – “Every Little Helps”. Audi – “Vorsprung Durch Technik”. How about public health campaigns? The road safety mantra “Stop, Look and Listen” probably saved the lives of hundreds of children.

InVision’s Media and Presentation Training courses look at how you can embrace the rule of three to improve the way you engage with the media and stakeholders. On a single piece of paper create your headline, the most important thing you want your audience to take from your presentation or interview. Next, develop three key messages that support that headline. Finally craft three examples that validate those messages and bring them to life.

This simple messaging template will help you deliver your “content” in a more engaging, colourful and impactful way.

Do’s & Don’ts of Media Communication – Covid-19

By | How To & Advice | No Comments

Media communication, and by this we mean briefing a team, the public, interviews with journalists, presentations or Q&A sessions, can be a minefield. One wrong step and what should have been the simple delivery of a message can turn into a media circus.

After many months away from their usual workplace your employees may now be returning to work. This could be an office space, a site, a stage, place of retail or any other enclosed space where business occurs. You may also have clients, consumers or members of the general public having to meet and interact with you. Not every meeting can happen over Zoom or Microsoft Teams so there will now be an element of risk assessment to every situation which requires interaction. With this staged return there will be health and safety guidelines that will have to be met, a certain level of care-of-duty and inevitably the issue of blame should anything go wrong.

Media training prepares you to handle difficult situations and difficult questions, but as we have seen from media interviews over the last few months, even those who deal with the media every day have not always been prepared. Questions have been badly handled, often leaving the media and members of the public confused and even angry.

If you have attended any of our media training sessions you will know some of the ‘Do’s and Don’ts of media interviews, briefings and interacting with your audience, but in this post we will make them more Covid specific.

  • Do think about your audience – they may be angry if there has been an outbreak of the virus in your company and they, or their loved ones have been put at risk. The audience could be the media or family members wanting answers. Emotions may be heightened so consider the words you plan on using carefully.
  • Do prepare your story and stick to the facts. If the issue is based on a timeline make sure that you present this correctly. Don’t confuse your audience or make them question the accuracy of your story.
  • We all know how the virus spreads, so don’t give your audience a science lesson they have heard a thousand times since March. Keep your explanation short and simple.
  • Use facts to inform them as to how you have resolved the situation. Concentrate on moving the issue forward. Don’t dwell on the ‘what ifs’.
  • Don’t provide information that you have not verified. The public have already been given different statistics by the government, research bodies, private companies and other sources.
  • Don’t try to blame a specific person or group. Pointing the finger will not make the situation better. Blame will not make the problem disappear. Making sure the virus is no longer spreading and confirming actions have been taken to guarantee it will not happen again is what needs to be heard and remembered by your audience. Offer positive solutions, not excuses.
  • Don’t use visual aids unless you really have to. Think back to some of the ones used in the daily government briefings which made the situation more confusing, not less.
  • If you are only briefing the media and not answering questions, make this clear at the start of your briefing.
  • If you are conducting the briefing or interview over Zoom then check everything is working before you start – getting flustered with IT issues will affect the delivery of your briefing and maybe even change how you respond to questions.
  • Do use confident body language. Whether you are physically in a room or using a screen. For more tips on body language read our “Presenting Your Best Self” Guide – due to be released in August 2020.
  • If you get asked a question you don’t know the answer to or get presented with a fact that you can’t or don’t want to comment on, avoid saying “no comment”. To read more about “No Comment” – The worst phrase in communication, click here.
  • If you get asked a question that starts with “Would you say that…” don’t respond with “Yes…” or “No…” unless you are 110% sure either way. Try using these phrases instead:

 

“It is important to look at this in context…”

“If I had to sum it up using my own words…”

“With this situation it is important to….”

 

We don’t know what the next few months will bring, if the outbreak will be fully contained or eradicated, or if a second wave will occur. We don’t know how our working practices will be impacted, how society will respond, or how much blame will be put on organisations, employers or the government should the worst happen. InVision does know however how to help you be prepared to deliver briefings and interviews in a way that helps your audience understand the situation, the story and what it means for the future.

The InVision Media Training team can help you prepare for a face to face environment or a video conference call. For more information contact us on: info@invisioncomms.com or 01483 230756

“No comment” – the worst phrase in media communications

By | How To & Advice | No Comments

When a difficult or unwelcome question is asked it is always tempting to say “no comment”. This could be for several reasons:

  • Not knowing the answer and/or embarrassment
  • Not being prepared and/or being surprised
  • Not wanting to answer or incriminate yourself or your company .

Contrary to well-known television shows where “no comment” is the go-to phrase for fictional political or legal dramas, when it comes to real life media interaction, “no comment” is the red rag to the journalist’s bull.

You can say no comment in a thousand ways, but if you utter those two words then the journalist, or even a colleague, friend or family member will know that’s the question that needs to be asked again and again until the truth is revealed.

By saying “no comment” you look as if you are hiding something or that you may indeed be guilty. It also makes you look weak as a communicator. A confident and experienced media professional should not, and will not resort to using “no comment”.

So, what confident phrases can be used in place of those two words?

  • I’m not in a position to talk about that specific matter…
  • I wish I could answer that right now but I will have to come back to you…
  • That isn’t my area of expertise but I can get one of my colleagues to brief you…..
  • There are confidentiality and privacy issues that mean I can’t give you a detailed answer…
  • If we put this into context…
  • That’s not something I can answer right now but what we do know is…

The above is a short list of “no comment” alternatives but the delivery is just as important as the words. The art of bridging in order to move an interview onto the ground where you feel confident requires practice. InVision’s media training team can help you overcome any insecurities or doubts you may have about this challenging issue.

We Are All TV Presenters Now

By | How To & Advice, Interview | No Comments

In the Zoom/Microsoft Teams age that we are all now living in, the ability to deliver information online in an engaging, confident and impactful way has never been more important. Below is a top ten list of tips to help you come across as a professional both technically and as a communicator.

 

  1. Positioning – check your screen set up. You need to ensure you are central to the camera with equal distancing to the sides and not too much space above your head. Remember the camera is more flattering when pointing slightly down rather than up. Prop your phone/laptop on top of a few books and try out a few angles before going “live”. This will also help you focus on the camera.

 

  1. Audio – check your audio, and then check it again before the interview starts. Have a set of headphones ready in case your speakers fail.

 

  1. Lighting – make sure sunlight is not directly in front of you or behind you. The former will make you appear illuminated while the latter will leave you in the darkess. If you can, switch your room light on or a desk lamp to make sure your face is adequately lit. Natural light is always the best option however.

 

  1. Wardrobe – yes, only the top part of your body can be seen, but you never know what may happen during the “call”. Zoom history is littered with underpants images.

 

  1. Background – having a good background is important but the virtual options built into apps like Zoom are usually inappropriate for a business or media conversation. Try to position your camera towards a bookcase or a neutral wall with some plain artwork. The viewer should be focusing on you, not what’s behind you.

 

  1. Distractions – unless you live alone there is a chance that your partner, a child, or family pet will make a surprise appearance during your interview or online meeting. Professor Robert Kelly’s interview on the BBC is the gold medal example of this. If you’re comfortable with colleagues being given a window into your home life then fine. If not, then hang a “do not disturb” sign on the door.

 

  1. Connection – have a backup plan. If you are a desktop user, have the App ready to use on your phone in case your WiFi connection fails.

 

  1. Be energized. The most important word in every single InVision media and presentation training course is passion. If you want to capture your audience’s attention then you need to come across as passionate about your subject matter.

 

  1. Be prepared. Don’t think you can just wing it. Get one page of A4 paper and write down the three key messages that you want to deliver in your presentation or interview. Then think of ways to bring those messages to life with examples, colour or statistics.

 

  1. Practice makes perfect. Don’t try to learn your presentation in the way an actor learns a script, (you’re not an actor) but if at all possible, rehearse ahead of the real thing. You will feel more relaxed and confident when the camera is on you.

12 Virtues of a Good Interviewee

By | How To & Advice | No Comments

It is thought that Aristotle believed that moral virtues were acquired by habit and imitation of practice.

To become a good interviewee, there is nothing more important than practice and the building of good habits.

There are 12 virtues attributed to Aristotle; all of which are helpful and relevant to becoming a good interviewee:

 

  1. Temperance – practice self-control and restraint, especially when emotion can get in the way; learn to control your emotions.
  1. Magnificence – enjoy your interviews and your confidence will radiate.
  1. Honour – respect the person asking the questions; you may not always agree with them, but they have a right to their own opinions and views.
  1. Good Temper – remain level-headed even when an interview or situation does not go your way.
  1. Liberality – Be open to new ideas and free from prejudice.
  1. Courage – have the courage to face difficult questions but also be prepared to hear difficult answers.
  1. Friendliness – conviviality is your friend – if combined with courage your performance will only improve.
  1. Truthfulness – being straightforward and frank will help the delivery of your message and questions.
  1. Friendship – you are more likely to build a relationship with your interviewer if you are friendly; hostility has no place in professional interviews.
  1. Justice – be impartial and fair.
  1. Wit – have a sense of humor (when appropriate to do so).
  1. Pride – be proud of the work you produce and believe in what you are trying to achieve.

 

The InVision team uses all these virtues when training future media interviewees. Practice and the development of good habits is key to succeeding and with our help those habits will become second nature.