The late Brian Clough had great advice about sound bites. “If you think of a killer phrase that sums up your story, the media will swoop on it like vultures. Keep them fed and you’ll keep them at arm’s length with you in control.” If only media interviewees today knew that.
In a new book, MediaMasters, Alan Stevens and Jeremy Nicholas have interviewed many of the top media performers in the UK, to find out top tips that anyone can use. Here’s a collection of six more of them:
Former paralympic athlete Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson says “You are usually asked the same old questions, time and time again.” Her recommendation? “Practise your answers and make sure you get better over time”
George Galloway MP agrees. He doesn’t believe in being diverted by inconveniences like interviewer’s questions. He says “You should say what you want to say. If it’s a good point, repeat it.” Exactly. You should say what you want to say.
Comedy performer Phill Jupitus urges caution when making comments in jest, advising “They may not look good when printed in black and white and attributed to you. Always speak the truth, except in wedding speeches when diplomacy is more important.” How true that is.
The creators and writers of the “Alex” cartoons, Charles Peattie and Russell Taylor, also use humour, but emphasise brevity too. They say “We can create a story for Alex in just four frames of a cartoon, with a joke to end, so surely you can trim your message a bit?”
Turning to TV skills, Michael Parkinson tells you to befriend the camera. His best advice? “When you are talking on camera, imagine you are chatting to a family member or close friend”. It certainly worked for him with his relaxed interviewing style being much imitated.
Lastly, novelist Fay Weldon gives some great advice about writing articles. She says “I don’t believe in sitting staring at a blank page for ages. Write first, think afterwards and analyse later”
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. It’s all about preparation and confidence. There’s plenty more advice from the other MediaMasters in the book too (ISBN 1-905430-61-2), which is available from Amazon, or the authors’ websites at www.mediacoach.co.uk or www.jeremynicholas.co.uk.