How to get the most out of your sports media interviews

©Steve Haag

Whether you are an interviewer, interviewee or the end user, you will often find that there are questions that don’t get to the points you wish to make or questions you don’t want to answer depending on how you are viewing it.

If it’s a policy issue not to discuss certain topics, it is fair to say ‘its our policy not to discuss…’ and then bridge on to what you do want to talk about.

You may be asked a question about the UK's top rated online casinos to which you do not know the answer and you can use the following technique.

The ‘Block and Bridge’ technique allows you to block a question and bridge back to the important message you have developed about a particular subject. The block stops the current line of questioning and the bridge leads the media to your message.

Blocking words and phrases

Irrelevance: if it’s not relevant don’t discuss it

BLOCK: That question is irrelevant                             BRIDGE: The real issue is…

Speculation: ‘What if’ or hypothetical questions

BLOCK: That’s a hypothetical question                   BRIDGE: The facts that I have are…

Needling: ‘Come on now, you don’t expect me to believe…’

BLOCK: Yes, I do                                                                        BRIDGE: In actuality…

Dumb and Dumber: Reporter says they don’t understand or ask inane questions

BLOCK: Where did I lose you?                                         BRIDGE: OK, lets start from the top…

Other:

BLOCK: That’s interesting                                                 BRIDGE: However

BLOCK: that’s not my area of expertise                                     BRIDGE: but what I can tell you is..

BLOCK: Im not sure that’s strictly true                     BRIDGE: another way of thinking is this…

BLOCK: (space)                                                                          BRIDGE: I think what you are really saying is…

BLOCK: Good question…                                                    BRIDGE: But remember…

Block and Bridge continued…

A simple and effective way of ensuring you have every question become an opportunity to make your point is to try to answer the question with a very brief answer then follow with one of your key messages… ie: “(short answer) which supports our goal of…”

Flagging / Heading

When trying to make your key messages clear in an interview, start with the conclusions and end with the explanations – you ‘flag’ the issue. This is especially important in broadcast interviews. Make your point then explain it if you need – or you can draw attention by saying phrases like: “the most important issue is...”

Enumerating points

You can extend your sound bites cleverly by making it impossible for the media to separate them:

“There are three things every person should know here: 1)… 2)… and 3)…”

Pausing/know when to stop

Don’t continue after making your point

Use single, clear sentences to make your point

Reporters often leave a space of silence to try to draw unintended remarks out of guests trying to ‘fill the space’. You don’t have to!

Clothing

Wear dark/medium coloured shirt/jacket

Avoid patterns

Other

Be wary of what you say when cameras are not rolling, someone is always listening!