images-1One of my guilty pleasures is watching Shark Tank almost every week. I know, crazy stuff for a Friday night. I started to notice that every person who appears on the show answers questions asked by the Sharks with So, Yeah or Right. Every one. It generally sounds like this:

Shark: What does it cost to make your product and for how much do you sell it?

Entrepreneur: Right. It costs me $20 and I sell it for $40.

In what world does saying “Right” make sense there? I know that many of these people prepare for the show by doing some form of spokesperson training and it seems like someone out there is teaching them to answer questions this way. I thought it was a weird phenomenon of Shark Tank media training, but I was wrong.

 

I have now started to notice the exact same bad habit on the Today Show, Good Morning America and CNN. This could certainly just be a case of the bad grammar we are all getting numb to just getting a bright light shining on it via national television exposure. However, I believe that this nonsense is way too pervasive for that and I really think that some spokesperson training firms may be giving their clients the option to use these words as transitions to make them feel more comfortable. That makes me sad.

What should they do instead? Just answer the questions asked with the information requested. Good spokesperson training will tell you that all day long. In fact, here are five of my favorite tips to give to clients when they are preparing for interviews.

  1. A media interview isn’t really new. You talk about your product in a variety of environments to anyone who will listen. This is just a new audience to whom you are speaking. There is no need to change your normal pitch, your normal enthusiasm for your product simply because there is a microphone.
  2. Take control of the conversation. Know the three key points that you want to make and then make them several times throughout the interview without appearing to be scripted. Don’t answer every question with a key message point if it isn’t applicable. Mix it up and at the end of the interview, restate your three key points.
  1. Watch your gestures. For example, if you nod your head in agreement with a reporter when she is asking a question, you are implicitly agreeing with whatever she is saying. That becomes a problem when you are in an adversarial interview because the agreeing head nod when you are disagreeing with a point can be misconstrued as lying.
  2. Don’t get caught by long pauses. Some reporters will use the long pause as a tactic to get you to ramble on even after you have succinctly answered a question and that is often when people claim they are “misquoted” because they said something they didn’t mean to say. Wait out the pause and let the reporter ask a new question.
  1. Your words can come back to haunt you. The number one thing to remember when talking to a reporter is that nothing is off the record. If you don’t want to see it appear in print or be broadcast out over the air for all to hear, don’t say it. This is one huge reason why every business leader should go through some form of spokesperson training on a regular basis.

A media interview doesn’t have to be a scary thing and good spokesperson training, done regularly, can keep you on top of your game. So..Yeah..Right.