Media interviews demand brevity
The ability to crystallize your thoughts and speak in simple terms is one of the most important things I address during speaker and media training.
It’s not as easy as it sounds, particularly if you are in a technical profession such as IT, medicine or law, but the ability to speak in plain English is invaluable.
Picture a physician who needs to help patients understand their care – the more a patient comprehends, the greater the chance they will follow their treatment plan. Pediatricians are particularly good at communicating with families. After all, when you’re working with kids, simple is best.
Understand what the media wants
Too often, though, the thought of being interviewed on TV brings out the “high talker” in sources – the need to impress media with their huge vocabulary. Rather than impress, these folks frustrate media. Reporters want sound bites, not books.
It’s important to view the interview from their angle. Mainstream media need to make news accessible for the lowest common denominator. When you provide a complicated answer, they need to break it down into easy-to-understand concepts, which makes their job harder.
And, if you aren’t clear, you increase the odds that the story will be inaccurate. Is that what you want? Do yourself a favor and simplify, simplify, simplify.
When you have at most three minutes for a TV interview, brevity is the coin of the realm, and it needs to be spent wisely. I train speakers to eliminate nonsense phrases that take up valuable time.
Here are some of the most common examples – and how they can be shortened.
- At this point in time (now)
- At the end of the day (ultimately)
- 12 noon (noon)
- Close proximity (proximity means close)
- In spite of the fact (although)
Virtually everyone has a pet phrase that they unconsciously use. Once you know what it is, it’s easier to avoid. Here’s one simple trick: Focus. Focus. Focus.
Get it? Got it? Good.