In our previous article, I shared some examples and elements you can use to get soundbites you want. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when trying to use those soundbite elements.
Let’s dive deep into it!
Sounds Bites are a Means, Not an End
Some people get excited about soundbites and think of them as a new toy to play with. Keep in mind that your goal isn’t to have a bunch of soundbites come out of your mouth, but to communicate clear and predetermined messages. you should decide in advance what’s important to communicate to the audience of a specific media outlet.
A soundbite is just a packaging tool to increase the odds of relaying what you want. In the past, I’ve had clients who were great with soundbites. Everything they said was a sound bite, and half the time, it was fantastic because they got all great quotes on message in the media. But the other half of the time, it was awful because the quotes were so bad and off message that they caused problems. So, let’s not lose sight of what’s important. Your message is important. The soundbites are just tools to help us get the message in the story.
Have a Specific Mindset
You need to have a specific mindset when you’re in a media interview. Many people, even if they’re comfortable and confident in other aspects of their life, are nervous during a TV interviews. They feel like they’re walking on eggshells in the middle of an interview, or their back is against the wall, and they’re just hoping the reporter doesn’t hit them or throw something at them. You don’t want to be like that. You have to be in control.
You’ve nothing to do with whether the reporter loves you, hates you, is smart or dumb, nice, sympathetic, or antagonistic. if you have great messages and you know when and where to insert soundbites when you’re speaking, you will feel like you are in control. It’s not about being a walking, talking quote machine. It’s about control. Turn it on when it’s on your message. Turn it off when you have to talk about something that’s not part of your message.
Test Your Sound Bites
There’s no such thing as a great soundbite in the abstract. You can’t simply read a web page or newspaper and tell if that’s a great soundbite. A soundbite is good only if three things are true, i.e.,
- It’s one hundred percent on your message. The soundbites are not running the show. Your message is running the show.
- There are no unintended consequences, nuances, or offenses.
- You’re personally comfortable with it.
For example, if you decide to use a cricket analogy to use in your soundbite but you don’t watch or understand cricket, then don’t use it. You might prefer a symphony music analogy or some other analogy that’s on your messages. Use what you like and what’s relevant to your message. If you’re uncomfortable with it, you’ll find it hard to say it with a straight face during the interview.
Get the Exact Messages You Want
With every news media interview you ever do, there are five potential outcomes. Number one, you get quoted saying something racist, sexist, foolish, and awful. You humiliate yourself, you’re disgraced, and you are run out of your industry. Huge destruction to your reputation. The second possibility is you don’t get quoted at all. You didn’t hurt or disgrace yourself, but you lost the opportunity. You didn’t say anything quotable.
The third option is you get quoted, but the quotes had nothing to do with anything you planned.
The fourth option is that the message you want got quoted. The actual quotes or the sound bites were random and not anything you planned, but you had a message.
The fifth option is you get the exact message you wanted in the final story and you got the exact word-for-word quote in the story that you decided in advance. That is the ultimate goal for every interview.
Putting Your Sound Bites Together
Now that you spent some time coming up with messages and soundbites, my recommendation is you ask a colleague, friend, or family member to ask you questions. It doesn’t matter how good their questions are; no one’s being judged on the quality of the questions. You’re being judged on the quality of the answers.
The first time you do it, you can practice as if it was a phone interview. Stare at your notes, stare at your soundbites, but then try to get more comfortable with it. Do the next one as a TV interview, meaning you don’t get to look at your notes, and then analyze your answers.
You want to get to the point where, no matter where you stop the video, if you ask yourself if only the last five seconds get on the evening news, are you happy with it? If you can get to the point where every single sentence in your whole interview withstands that scrutiny, you are in good shape. You are ready for that interview.
Practice with the sound bite elements and techniques to get great soundbites, and then practice on the video until you get the desired results. Most people don’t like to rehearse on video but remember that you have to make time for anything important. If you want to do a great job on your next interview, then practice it, rehearse on video, and see if you get desired sound bites. Do that, and you’ll be in great shape.