Stuck for words: when bridging phrases get you out of a hot spot

Politicians are experts at handling media interviews.  So much so, their ability to deflect a question can be really annoying especially when you want to know the answer!   The reason is, they are masters of bridging phrases.

A bridging phrase can be used to restructure a question to bring the interview back to your key messages to take control of an interview.

Just how you manage an interview depends on how prepared you are and how adaptable you are responding off the cuff.

If you’ve sent out a press release and you are the spokesperson, it’s important to have your key messages prepared and ready to use.   To be confident, you need to prepare yourself for difficult questions as well as those that you are unable to answer, or don’t want to answer.

When a journalist is interviewing you they may dwell on inconsistencies, push their own point of view, or try to confuse you.

Here’s a list of some useful bridging phrases to enable a smooth transition.  You’ve possibly heard some of them before.  Practice using these in context, and add your own to them.

– That’s an interesting concept…however, what I think is more important is…

– I’m glad you’ve asked me that because (my company) is also concerned and we…

– I don’t have this information at hand but when I do, I’m happy to talk about it further with you.

– I’m not the right person to answer that question. I suggest you speak to ….but I am able to say…

– That is not my area of expertise so I can’t comment, but I can say/do know…

– On what grounds do you make that assumption?

– Before I go, let’s get the facts straight…

– Let’s look at the overall picture…

– There seems to be a discrepancy in our information. Let me clarify some points…

– I think you’ve missed the important issue here…

– Let’s start at the beginning…

Chances are you may not have cause to use any of these, however, practicing interviews with a colleague or family member will build your confidence and highlight areas that can be improved on.  There are of course many professional media training agencies that specialise in key messages and simulating TV and radio interviews including door stops.

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