Tuesday 24 April 2018

Media training tips: just because

Speaking in bullet-point key messages is unnatural, uninspiring and frankly unhelpful to a journalist who’s on deadline and trying to get some interesting commentary into their story. As a spokesperson you should ask yourself whether the words coming out of your mouth are more or less interesting than the quote attributed to you in the press release. If the answer’s not a resounding “you bet” then everyone’s better off not doing the interview.

One of the ways to get around the problem of sucking the very soul out of the interviewer is to tie your key messages to short stories or anecdotes that illustrate the point. Packing colour into your responses is important because that’s what the journalist is after. And as the spokesperson, it’s your responsibility to do it.

In media training we often refer to the power of because, because it really is the easiest way to move from one point to another, related point. It’s a word we’re accused of over-using when we’re little, but in the context of a media interview it’s incredibly powerful because it means you don’t have to stop talking until you’re good and ready. This is a Very Good Thing because the point of fronting up in the first place is that you have something to say, which you want other people to know about. This only works if you actually say some stuff.

As Julien Smith (no relation, wish I had the talent) writes in his In Over Your Head blog: “Because is a magic word that helps people see your inner workings.” Too right.

And if a New York Times bestselling author can’t convince you, how about The Beatles? They loved the word so much they wrote a song for it.

Give it a try in your next interview rehearsal. Because we never try new things for the first time in the middle of a live interview.