Command attention like a media star (without resorting to leaking naked photos to the papparazzi)

Recently, I had the opportunity to hear some words about winning from a number of Aussie sport authorities including Peter Fitzsimons, Kevin Sheedy and Russell Barwick. They each generously donated a short section of their day to help me out with an article I was writing for a hospitality industry magazine.

Over the years I’ve conducted countless interviews for corporate and niche industry publications on a wide variety of subjects covering customer case studies; human interest; new products; sponsorships; seasonal spirit; executive profiles; and big events. Regardless of who I am interviewing, it’s my job to make these subjects appealing (at the very least) by drawing out the issues that will make the biggest connection with the intended audience.

Sometimes it’s an easy task to write a picture that inspires an intended response. Some products kick that much arse. Some success stories are just that captivating. The extra-curricular activities of some employees evoke that much awe (I actually became a volunteer for a not-for-profit on the strength of one such interview).

Other times, finding an aha! angle can be a little more challenging and let’s just say I’ve done a lot of work with the IT industry. It’s not all iPhones and Creative Suite and celebrity launches (oh my) if you know what I’m sayin’.

Masters of Message
I often interview people/staff/customers/managers/business partners that are not used to conducting conversations with someone armed with a dictaphone who is jotting down their every utterance. But, that’s ok because it’s my job to get the story from them and Dad didn’t nickname me Have-A-Chat when I was young for nothing and finding out other people's stories is a skill I've developed over the years.

Occasionally though, I get to speak to people who are interview savvy. It’s really obvious when an interviewee has had media training and is used to speaking their thing with the likelihood that their sentences will end up in print or telecast. They are all over the audience, the story angle and most importantly, the messages they want to impart to that audience.

As was the case with messieurs Fitzsimons, Barwick and Sheedy. Despite all being busy and stretched across multiple commitments they were utterly professional and courteous but most importantly, they all spoke in sound bites. It's part of the reason why they're well-known. Nearly every sentence was quotable - they referenced popular culture, boomed their answers with confidence and every phrase was illustrative, enthusiastic, bold and colourful. No waffle. No worries, mate.

Feed Your Business with Sound Bites

Sound bites can make the media star. They can also be an appetising practice for anyone in business. Whether you want to promote your business via a website, brochures, media interviews or in a chance meeting at a barbecue[i], by speaking in short, interesting bursts we are more likely to command attention, arouse curiosity and attract income.

The key is to be real, be memorable and be seated. And for Uncle Pete’s sake; don’t speak in clich├ęs unless you’re going to add something relevantly unique. Remember, every tongue has a silver lining and the consequence could make the heart grow fonder.

A Heart is the Most Important Part of Any Talking Head

A word of warning. Don’t just jam in sales spin and catchphrases in a cavalcade of gabble. The guys I spoke to were beguiling because although their lines were slick - and possibly used before - they were genuinely enthusiastic and truthful.  There was substance behind the speil.

If you want to talk up you or your business convincingly, be clear about its unique selling proposition. Now, imagine you are explaining it to your best friend, your favourite old boss and your child. Write it down. These words are your sound bites that should heavily influence the wording of your website, marketing collateral, press releases, elevator pitches.

These are your messages, your value, your potential.

Do you have a favourite company or media star who knows how to work their sound bites?

[i] Note: if you are at a barbecue talking about your business without substantial encouragement from those around you, stop immediately. You are killing the party buzz.

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