Media training

Should you repeat yourself?

When media training I often find the same questions come up, particularly around repeating yourself. Is it a good idea, ask people who have been giving presentations as part of their job for decades if not longer. These are inevitably people who wouldn’t hesitate over the odd repetition in a presentation.

The answer, as I said on yesterday’s video tip (less than two minutes, check it on this link) is yes – but be careful.

In the previous video I talked about the TV series, Line of Duty, and why the interrogation scene with the Jo Davidson character was an object lesson in never saying “no comment”. For those of you who haven’t seen it, her character says “no comment” about ten times and the assumption of her guilt seems to mount higher with every repetition.

So if you get asked, are you making redundancies, hiking your prices, whatever, “no comment” an audience is likely to hear it as “absolutely yes”.

Then they tried it again

The final episode of Line of Duty has had something of a critical mauling and although it’s not prime among the reasons quoted, I think getting the actual villain to keep repeating “no comment” was one of the flaws. There’s no problem with having the mastermind unveiled as an unlikely character we’ve known since episode one, also no problem with slamming us with the idea that we’ve been rooting for the wrong side all along.

The problem is that you need to make it exciting, so just having the same schtick as the week before in a less tense setting is going to be problematic. And this is where interviews and presentations can fall over as well. Here’s a video of the fairly young Ed Miliband when he first became Labour leader:

The problem isn’t that he repeats himself. The difficulty is that he doesn’t vary it – he has his message and he’s going to drive it home. He actually seems unaware that he’s saying the same thing over and over again. Had he started an answer with “as I’ve already said”, or “I don’t have anything to add to my previous point” or whatever, he might have looked better. He might also have considered refusing to answer more questions (I have no information but my guess is that he was expecting only one answer to reach the airwaves).

So you’re being interviewed – great. You want to use the opportunity to publicise your business – of course you do. However, if you have important points and want to repeat them, remember at least to look as if you’re aware you’ve made the point already. I’ll bet Ed Miliband wished he’d done so.

Do you need help with your media and interview skills? My Mediamentor media training service can help. Ask my assistant Nikki to set us up some time for an initial chat.

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