Interviewalley's Blog

February 12, 2010

Succinct Verbiage

Filed under: Uncategorized — interviewalley @ 5:40 pm

The other day I interviewed a first time author.  In his email, he apologized for his answers which he termed vague and too long.  I have received other emails from guests who often apology for not answering the interview question directly or worse keep repeating the same thing, but saying it with different words.  To avoid this type of scene, Lillian’s Interview Alley, provides the Interviewee with some tips that might help them stay out of trouble.

1.  Keep your sentences short.  Organize your thoughts before speaking and address that particular question and nothing else.

2.  Be specific.  When answering the Interviewer’s questions, answer that question with details that your audience can identify with and see in their mind’s eye.  For example, Donald Broughton, an analyst for Avondale, Partners, LLC, was asked about competing railroad stocks.  His answer was succinct, identifiable, and memorable.  “It’s one thing if you steal dirt from my front yard, and it’s another if you break into my house and take my sterling silver.  For six quarters, Union Pacific’s been walking around Burlington Northern’s house and taking as much silver, jewels and flat-screen TV’s they can get their hands on.” 

3.  Express an opinion.  When an Interviewer asks for your opinion during an Interview, don’t back off or shy away from the question.  Answer honestly and objectively.  Michele Obama was asked repeatedly during an interview about her feelings about Sarah Palin.  She expressed her opinion by stating that if she didn’t know someone, then it was impossible for her to say something about her.  While Ms. Obama didn’t actually express an opinion, she didn’t refuse or deviate away from the Interviewer’s question.  She did make it known in her opinion that unless you knew someone, you shouldn’t say anything at all.  Like I always am reminded. “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  But, you’re still expressing an opinion. 

4.  Repeat certain words.  When the Interviewee wants to emphasize a certain word, make sure you repeat it.  It’s been demonstrated that it takes seven times.  Take advantage of that rule and make that word, sentence, or phrase stand out and resonate with the listening audience.

5.  Make a comparison with a well-known someone or something that your listeners can identify with.   For example, when I was interviewed recently, the Interviewer made a comparison between my multi-cultural paranormal mystery book with Nancy Drew, Harry Potter and a teenage Indian Jones.

6.  Speak in metaphors.  For example when Warren Buffett was asked in a media interview if he planned on selling his stocks of Kraft Foods, he replied, “That gets expensive.  If I don’t like what’s going on in government, it doesn’t mean I have to leave the country.”

It’s important for Interviewees to understand that today’s listening and viewing audience are spoiled.  The demand instant gratification when hearing people speak.  If the audience feels that the Interviewee is inadequate or a fake, they won’t stick around to listen to the full interview.

When I interview guests on PIVTR, they’re given a full thirty minutes of live questions.  However, when I go and check my stats the next day, it’s only a handful of people that have the average listener stick around for the full 100% of the 30 minute program.  Most stats range from four percent to 80 percent. 

Remember when you give an interview that your language, your words, your tone of voice convey a message that’s being heard by an audience that’s impatient to hear what you have to say, how you say it and whether it’s going to make a difference in their lives.


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