I’ve just finished a virtual media training session and someone asked a really good question. What do you say when someone has asked something – if you don’t want to risk appearing to agree with a negative?
This can happen if someone is asking, say, “Your industry has innovated as much as it’s likely to, how do you differentiate now that you’re selling commodities?” If you catch yourself nodding and try to buy yourself time by saying “That’s a good question” then anyone seeing this will assume you agree with the premise.
So the first thing to do is to try not to nod when assimilating a question. This is tricky but do-able. The next thing is to be careful with your filler phrases. There is nothing wrong with a pause while you think. You can even say “I need to take a second to answer that properly”. Journalists will hate the delay but who cares, you don’t work for us. You might say “Thanks for the question, people will have different views on that…” or something.
Just beware of appearing to accept a premise that puts your (or your client’s) business in a bad light. The journalist might quite innocently take your response as an agreement.