What would you do if you were at an event and someone asked you to speak off-the-cuff about a somewhat controversial topic? Would you know what to do? What would you say?
This happened to a friend of mine at a function we attended. He’s well spoken, but I saw his eyes when he was asked to speak and I knew something was up. He looked decidedly uncomfortable.
I could see why the topic would be tricky to discuss, but that wouldn’t normally be a problem for him. I later found out that he’d been specifically asked NOT to speak about the topic. Further complicating matters, the person, who asked him not to say anything, was standing right next to him.
To his great credit, my friend addressed the question carefully. He used a technique called bridging to answer so no one would be offended. But later he confided that his mind was racing, trying to think of an appropriate response
Media Training Tip: Bridging
How should you handle tough questions–whether it’s at an event, after a presentation or during a media interview?
1. If you can, refrain from saying anything when you’re asked a controversial question that you don’t want to answer. (If you do want to take it on—have at it. But make sure you know exactly what you want to say and what the repercussions may be.)
2. If you have to say something, employ a media training technique known as bridging. (When I work with clients, I like to refer to it as the bump and run.) Example: “That’s an interesting point.”(Bump. Now run to your message.) “Let me tell you why I think what we’re doing is so important.”
3. If someone persists in asking a controversial question, shut them down nicely. Example: With a calm you don’t feel– and a smile on your face—“I am here today to address this. If you’d like to discuss that, I’d be happy to speak with you later.” OR: “I am not the best person within my organization to address your question, but I’d be delighted to find out who is and put you in touch with them.” (THE END)
Yes, it’s tough to think quickly on your feet. But with a little practice–and some coaching– you’ll get better.
P.S. Thanks to my friend for saying as he saw my wheels spinning, “You aren’t going to write a blog post about this—are you?” YES! Thanks for the inspiration my anonymous friend!
If you liked this blog, Media Training Tip: Bridging, perhaps you would like to learn more of our tips. If so, please check out our other executive media training blogs.
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