4.2(c) On the spot


To be able to respond to questions and interviews.

You need

Copies of your presentation (or presentations) from activity 4.2(a) Listen To This and 4.2(b) Taking The Mike and, if you have them, a video or tape recorder and about an hour.

What to do

There is one last thing to practise before going live. When you get your message out, people will respond and want to know more. Some may be supportive. Some may be hostile. Be prepared to make sure to grab the opportunity, rather than freeze in the headlights of publicity. How do you respond to the unexpected questions at a meeting, give a brief interview to the media, or react to a surprise telephone call from a local journalist?

a) First, as a warm up to get started, get into pairs or your original groups from the last activity and practise telling your story about the campaign. The media is often most interested in individual experiences, so tell the story of what the group is doing from a personal perspective.

b) Second, let’s look at the awkward question. Devise some awkward questions that might arise from having given your presentation and then create a role-play and fire them at each other in turns. You could be doing this for real very shortly. When on the receiving end, keep cool and polite and be well informed. Speak slowly as the person will take more in and you’ll have more time to think. Record your interviews if possible, to play back and discuss. This helps enormously. Make sure everyone has a go.

c) And what about the really short and sharp response? Most phone calls or radio slots will give you no more than a minute to make an impact. Jot down three key points you want to make about your own presentation. Or if you need a break from that, choose another topic, preferably controversial. In pairs, take turns as interviewer and person being interviewed and aim to get your three points across in a minute. No more and not much less. This could be a seriously useful skill for a debate or chat show style radio or TV programme. You can make it harder of course by having the interviewer interrupt you and chucking in tricky questions.

d) But a phone or radio interview may not even give you that long. Rehearse getting your message across in 15 seconds. Develop that art and you are ready for anything.

What do you think?

Play back your recordings. Talk about what seemed to be good responses and what didn’t. Staying calm is better than getting wound up, for example. Look how professional communicators deflect criticism – politicians or company spokespeople, for example. How can you borrow their techniques?

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