Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Do longer sentences in speeches, interviews = lying politicians?

Hear a long sentence, sense a long-nosed, lying Pinocchio? When it comes to politicians, NPR reported on one study suggesting that verbose sentences more often escaped the mouths of lying politicians.

You've heard this a million times, haven't you? A question is posed to which the interviewee doesn't know the answer, or one which he doesn't want to answer, and the next thing you know, there are words flying everywhere...enough to wrap around his throat and hang him.

A related problem in media interviews happens when the subject doesn't answer the question being asked, another situation that can lead to over-long answers. Turns out that doesn't fool the audience at all, and may impact your credibility.

Politicians, and others, who default to a long answer, particularly in a media interview, might want to know the formula for answering an interview question. It goes like this:

Pause. Answer. Stop.


You pause to be sure the interviewer has finished her question, rather than second-guess where she's headed. You answer the question. Then you stop, the part of the formula that most interview subjects skip. You don't go on to embroider, divert, digress, or add on. You wait for the next question, letting the reporter get a word in edgewise. And then, perhaps, you're not seen as using your long sentences to lie.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Dmitry)

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