What’s The Answer?
Imagine you’re being interviewed on live radio, when suddenly the reporter asks you a question to which you don’t know the answer.
You have two choices:
- Say, “I don’t know.”
- Tell the reporter what you do know related to the topic of her question.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with choice No. 1, and it’s often a better option for adversarial interviews.
But if the interview is “friendly,” choice No. 2 is often the right one.
In this video media training tip, I’ll give you a technique based on the reporting style of the late Peter Jennings.
Related: Click here to watch additional video media training tips.
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Thank you for the wonderful insight.
Another tool for the toolbox. Thanks.
True, but what to do or say if you are in a live interview that didn’t seem to become contentious — but it turns out to be very contentious anyway?
Here in the Netherlands, new political leaders of parties or CEOs sometimes get absolutely grilled on national TV in order to establish their bona fides as people who understand the finances of the nation’s or company’s budget. The Dutch love leaders who know their bread & butter.
I’ve seen live ambush interviews that went like this (R being reporter, P the person interviewed):
R: “Do you know how many people have a mortgage at the moment?”
P: “Well, that’s a little unclear, but – ”
R: “So you don’t know how many. It now stands at 6.4 million people. Alright, do you know the size of the current budget deficit?”
P: “That’s on or about 2,5% – ”
R: “It’s 3.1%. How much for a loaf of bread in the supermarket, on average?”
P: “That depends on your supermarket – ”
R: “It’s approximately 86 eurocents. Now, onto unemployment, which is a major issue during this political campaign and an issue you say you’re passionate about. Exactly what is today’s unemployment number?”
P: “I believe that’s about 6,5% of the work force.”
R: “Which translates to what, in absolute numbers?”
P: “Oh, well, that’s a little unclear – ”
R: “About 600.000 people unemployed. That’s how many people are on the dole. Now, Mr P, I’ve asked you about mortgages. About the budget deficit. About the price of bread. About unemployment numbers. You and your party aim to make the economy the centerpiece of your campaign. How can you ever expect to convince anyone you’re the right man for the job if you don’t even know these numbers by heart?”