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Being interviewed: Influence your audience’s behaviour, don’t just explain what’s happened.

When being interviewed, your role is not simply to regurgitate a line of facts or to deconstruct the systems, processes and journey you have been on prior to reaching this point.

Your objective is to influence the behaviour of the audience – this is much subtler and more dynamic than a passive explanation of the size of the problem.

Responses need to be more directional and influential than explanatory. Don’t just examine the consequences of any decision on how it affects your organisation internally, recognise that an externally facing narrative will have a much better effect on the behaviour of the audience.

Following the collision between two trains which has closed a mainline station, why would the Operations Director of a rail company tell us what we knew? A response which began: “we’re aware of an incident involving two trains at our station in…” is redundant and a rather quaint, but archaic, way of dealing with the pressures of the contemporary media environment.

Social media’s miles ahead of you on this: we already know the station’s shut after the rolling stock ran into each other. We’ve seen pictures, tweets, videos, the whole shebang. Tell us what we need to know, what we need to feel and – most importantly – what we need to do: “the station’s shut, there are no trains running at the moment, so don’t turn up till after 3pm when we will be open again”.

When devising and developing your positioning for an interview, recognise that part of the interview may require explanation, but if you can focus on the influence you would like to have, the final message should have a much greater impact. And might actually result in the audience doing as you say, absorbing your message and even buying your product!