Believe it or not, virtually no one listens to you when you’re being interviewed.
It makes no difference whether you are erudite, stimulating, controversial, profound, profane or even offensive, your audience can sometimes be as small as one.
Why is this? It’s because you are doing an interview that is not being consumed by the audience at the point of delivery. In other words it is a pre-recorded exchange which will be published or broadcast later. Your actual audience – those in the real world – will not exist until your comments have been filtered, gutted, sifted, and edited by the gatekeeper – the journalist.
The issue is that only a small portion of what you say in a pre-recorded print or broadcast environment is ever exposed to those who read or hear it. This means that if you treat it like a chat, wander all over the place, try and educate the reporter and then build a case, the outcome might not match your original aspiration.
But don’t worry – help is at hand!
You have at your disposal one of the most obvious tools of the trade but one that is hardly ever used even though there is no reason not to. It is…the power of the pause – the sound of silence.
Just because someone has asked you a question in a pre-recorded interview doesn’t necessarily mean you are compelled to give an immediate answer. You will find your thoughts coalesce and your ideas can be much sharper with greater discipline if you give yourself a couple of moments to consider what you’ve been asked and work out how you’re going to respond against the backdrop of the question.
The fear is that your procrastination will find its way into the final cut making you look indecisive and unsure. Take it from me – this doesn’t happen; it simply has no value because it would make either the broadcast disjointed or the print article ridiculous with big blank stretches of ‘thinking time’ before your quote was published.
Silence should not be feared however counterintuitive it may appear. It might be de riguer to express your intellect in a professional environment by shooting back a solution to any problem raised. The rules are different in an interview that is not live.
In these, you have the chance to control when and how long you will speak. Clearly your responses need to be of a reasonable length that can be quoted or broadcast so don’t overstay your welcome. However do remember that by pausing you have a unique opportunity to exercise some sort of copy control by reviewing and assessing what you’re about to say before it comes out of your mouth.
The audience is only going to hear a short snatch of the conversation or read a few of the words that you will have said. Make sure those words are the ones you would like to see them consume rather than something that was blurted out on the spur of the moment because you were too scared of the sound of silence.