Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How to use your elevator speech in a media interview without sounding like a robot

I've already coached you to think of your "elevator speech" or three-point message as a menu with three courses that you can offer your listener. That helps you boil down what you want to say into its briefest form, and serve it up so your listener follow along and remember what you said later. But when it comes to media interviews, you'll often hear three-point messages repeated over and over. That may seem safer, but makes you look and sound like a robot (and robots are rarely called back for more interviews). On February 13, I'll be working with the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Science and Technology Policy Fellows on how to use their elevator speeches in media interviews--without sounding like robots. If you're smart about it, you can do the same, using a message to:
  1. Let the reporter get a word in edgewise: If you take a deep breath and start delivering an hour-long lecture, that's not an interview. Instead, offer your three elevator-speech points and stop. You've now offered the reporter three different directions to take the interview, and left her some room to do so.
  2. Remember the points you most want to include: Nothing's so disappointing as finishing an interview only to realize you never said the most important thing. Limiting yourself to the elevator speech's three-point outline means you just have to remember three key points or categories, not 100. Groups of three things are easiest for you to remember--and likewise, easiest for your audience, so the interview will be memorable on two counts.
  3. Go deep where you need to: If your restaurant customer wanted to order another portion of a certain dish, you'd serve it to them, right? If you start the interview by laying out three points, and the reporter wants to follow up one part of that menu intensively, then go deeper into that topic. You should always be prepared to say more about each of the three points in your elevator speech, and while that's rarely a problem for the expert being interviewed, remember that the ability to say more about each point is what makes you different from a robot interview subject.
  4. Get creative: If you can string your three points together with an analogy, use alliteration or liken your issue to something in popular culture, you can make it even more memorable. Melinda Gates does that in this TED talk about what nonprofits can learn from Coca-Cola with a clever analogy that lets her dive deeply into what might otherwise be arcane points.
  5. Be consistent and prepared for many interviews:  Just as an elevator speech means you're ready for the impromptu question in an elevator, it can get you ready for a series of interviews and ensure you get across your most important points in each one. At the same time, those interviews may go in different directions, and you'll be ready for that, too, by offering up the same menu and seeing where different reporters choose to take the conversation.

No comments: