Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Winning the long-form interview: Fewer talking points and CEOs

Any reporter or producer will tell you that the long-form interview, particularly on radio, requires a different level of preparation. And that goes double in this Communications Network interview with NPR Fresh Air radio host Terry Gross,

Gross, whose hour-long program routinely features 20-to-40-minute interviews, shared some insights on using talking points for preparation, and using technical jargon. Here's what she had to say about an interviewee loaded with repeatable talking points:
Yeah, it’s like the last thing we want. There are some [shows] you need to go in with talking points because the person interviewing you is not going to know what to ask you. They’re not necessarily going to get to what’s interesting. And you need to come in armed with the points you want to get across. But you don’t want to sound like they’re talking points; you want them to sound spontaneous. On some shows, cable news shows, if they sound like talking points, maybe that’s not a bad thing. But we’re not that show. So you have to know where you’re sending the person and arm them accordingly.
And then she was asked about CEOs who tend to use what one of my clients calls "jargonese," in this case, a phrase like "building systems." She equivocated not at all:
No, no, no, no, no. You cannot use those words. If people are talking about building systems, they are not going to be on our show. There are times when I think the CEO shouldn’t be the person who should be sent out—it’s the person in the field. If you want to talk about effective teaching strategies, maybe you want to send an effective teacher, who can tell first person stories about what works and what doesn’t in the classroom.
So, media relations types, there's your target: A CEO who can handle a long-form interview without sounding like either a robot or a jargon-laden strategic plan. Can you manage that? If you want media training for that CEO to increase storytelling and conversational interview skills, email me at eloquentwoman AT gmail DOT com.

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