Do you find yourself getting off track during news or on-camera interviews? Or even worse, are you discovering that what you believed to be your best quotes were not used at all? While recently on assignment for NBC News. one of my interviewees was disappointed with the final edit of the story. “I can’t believe you interviewed me for a half hour and they only used THAT one sound bite with me”, she said.

Some things cannot be avoided-time limitations, other competing interviews for the story, or the story changes during the course of the day.  But some times the sad reality hits-your interview was just not that good. Please try not to take this personally. We like you and clearly you have a story worth sharing but many people fail miserably when the little red light goes on and recording begins. Nerves are common but usually go away for most people after a few minutes. Some people are a little boring or drab, which also makes it difficult to find good sound bites but usually we can find something to work with. For many, the most common problem is the focus of your messages. A lot of people make the mistake of spending too much time on the “what” instead of the “why”.

For example, let’s say I am interviewing a nurse about the changing world of healthcare and the shortage of qualified nurses in the workforce. The interviewee may be inclined to talk about the shortage and how it impacts hospital operations. She may provide statistics on work productivity and overtime hours needed because of the shortage.  All of that is important but not very personal or impactful as stand-alone messages. However, if that same interviewee were to discuss how nursing literally saves lives, and she is able to offer an example, we have a much more interesting interview. Maybe she can provide an example of how the shortage impacts patient care? Additionally, maybe she has life changing event she can share as to why she became a nurse in the first place?

You can see where I am heading here. Great story-telling is personal.  Not just for the news media, but any great presentation, conference or speech must reach the audience emotionally to some degree or the message falls short.

If you want to be heard, if you want your messages consumed,  focus more on the “why” and less on the “what”.

Rich Dubek is a two-time Emmy award winning TV news reporter with more than twenty five years of news media experience at the local and network level. He is President of the Dubek Media Group, specializing in expert media training and on-air coaching, and full service video production. The Dubek Media Group is based in Tempe, Arizona.