Being able to give succinct, accurate and vivid answers to (softball) questions, without coming across as over-rehearsed or glib, is an under-rated skill. Not having it means you don’t get to spread “The Truth” as much as you you’d like…
|You can give clear answers to basic questions that you knew were coming, and inject a little humour or humanity into proceedings.
|You can give right-length (short, or comprehensive, depending on circumstances) answers to tricky questions, while flagging uncertainties and ambiguities, and distinguishing between any personal views and those of organisations you might represent.
|You can give incisive and provoking-in-the-right-way answers, rich in detail and resonance, to questions, and can include things you weren’t asked about in ways that don’t look like clumsy shoe-horning.
|You can do everything an expert can do, while in the 24th hour of a no-food, no-water chaining of yourself to some nasty piece of infrastructure to stop the business-as-usual ecocide of this species.
Element Overview Essay
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The reason this isn’t done better is that there aren’t that many opportunities to practice and you can get the format wrong. So being interviewed for a radio programme is different than for a one of news bulletin or a podcast.
The consequences of doing it badly is that you come across as either over wordy or too glib or too succinct and you miss an opportunity to make good connections with people.
The fixes are to be very aware of what kind have answers the person asking you the question is looking for, are they looking for a sound bite? Are they looking for a long detailed explanation for their podcast? Are they looking for something else, and then having the confidence to deliver it in well-formed sentences that are clear, that are vivid, that are friendly and human. The last thing people want is to listen to a robot or someone who is basically just regurgitating a press release.
You can practice this. You can listen to how other people do it. You can pick up tricks of the trade. You can ask for explicit specific post mortems of your previous performance. And I would recommend all of those as courses of action.