Of all the media training trouble spots I encounter, the inability to stop talking is at the top of the list. So many many people just can’t stop talking. They can’t stop talking during media interviews, they can’t stop talking during presentations, blah blah blah blah!
Am I being mean? Maybe a little but the inability to embrace silence is a massive problem for a lot of people and in most cases, it’s counterproductive. Let me explain in more detail.
In media interview situations, your success or lack thereof is based on whether you can articulate a complete thought, a soundbite, in a media friendly (compressed) amount of time. The people who learn how to do it well are able to communicate effective media friendly messages usually without getting themselves into trouble. The people who don’t often create their own problems by offering too much unneeded information, offering context not needed to answer the question at hand and potentially creating new controversy in the process. Additionally, droning on and on also makes it incredibly difficult for the editor to find stand-alone complete soundbites with natural breaks between thoughts.
This problem is very evident during presentations too. You’ve probably witnessed it. A colleague trying to cram every morsel of information into their allotted time frame, never taking a moment to catch a breath or a much needed pause for emphasis. While the presenter may set a record for most words used, does quantity or quality leave the best impression?
So why do people do this? During media interviews, the inability to stop talking usually comes from nerves and a false belief that when the camera is recording, the interviewee must fill the dead space with conversation or there will be awkward silence! Not the dreaded silence!
But as a long time member of the news media and and as a long time media trainer, I give you permission to stop talking. Answer the question and just stop talking. In the process, you will become more concise, more condensed, more on point and a true master of your messaging.
Rich Dubek is President of the Dubek Media Group in Tempe, Arizona. DMG specializes in media training and on-camera coaching, and full service video production.