Five tips for media briefing panelists

Scientists: Register with SciLine


1. Develop your remarks around 2-3 key points you want to convey—then practice.

  • Tailor your words for an audience of curious, attentive, non-specialty reporters.
  • Back up your key points with data or studies. Use phrases like “this research found…” or “in a study from [year]…” to signal that your statements are not opinion, but grounded in science.
  • Practice your remarks ahead of time, especially your key points, so you can express them concisely and clearly. Time yourself to be sure you can say everything in 7 minutes or less.
  • Limit yourself to 3 slides, plus one optional for references. Busy, text-heavy slides are distracting, so stick to simple visuals that don’t repeat, but enhance what you are saying.

2. Put your science into relevant context.

  • Describe how your science affects people and communities. This will help your presentation resonate with reporters and can provide them with new story ideas.
  • For reporters who may be new to this topic, describe how your work fits into the bigger picture of ongoing research and how scientists’ understanding has changed over time.
  • If you are comfortable doing so, share examples of concepts that reporters sometimes get wrong, or important caveats they should be sure not to neglect; they’re here to learn from you.

3. Anticipate potential questions and practice succinct, relevant answers.

  • Journalists want to know what’s new, and how the work you are describing can affect their readers or viewers. Prepare how to answer these questions for different parts of the country.
  • Practice answering the final question you will be asked at the end the briefing: “What is one key take-home message you want journalists to remember for their future reporting?”

4. Keep in mind that this is a live video briefing.

  • Silence phones and other notifications on your electronic devices; verify before the briefing starts that your microphone is working.
  • Make sure your entire face is visible, is not too close to the camera, and is illuminated from the front.

5. Remember these DOs and DON’Ts.

DO say so if you disagree with a question’s premise. It’s not rude to say “Actually, that’s not quite right. Let me explain…” or “That may be, but the bigger issue is …”

DON’T guess when you do not know the answer. It is OK to say: “I’m sorry, that’s outside my area of expertise.” or “I don’t have the answer at my fingertips, can I get back to you on that question?”

DO use analogies, visual examples, and anecdotes. Paint a picture with your words to make your knowledge more accessible and memorable to nonexperts.

DON’T use acronyms, abbreviations, and jargon. They can confuse non-experts and obscure your insights. Instead explain commonly used phrases in your field.

DO share additional resources for reporters to follow up on, if relevant.


FORMAT: Media briefings take place via Zoom. After brief introductions by SciLine, each panelist will present for 5-7-min, after which all will participate in Q&A discussion, with SciLine reading reporters’ submitted questions aloud.

AUDIENCE: Briefings are attended by 30 -100 reporters from print, radio, and TV news outlets across the U.S. – local and national. Many will have limited science backgrounds but all will be eager to ask questions!

NOTE: This media briefing is on-the-record: everything you say during your presentation and the Q&A will be recorded and can be used by reporters in news stories. Do not share unpublished data or make remarks you would not say in public.