Don’t Fill the Silence

Reporters are not out to get you. People looking for positive publicity often fear that.  When you pitch a story and they bite, what they want is more information to flesh out the pitched idea and craft it into a story. 

Still, doing a radio or TV interview is not like having a conversation, no matter how cordial and easy-going the interviewer may seem.  It's their job to put you at ease and draw you out. You want to have good energy and be responsive, but have a clear idea of what you want to say and keep your answers heading in that direction.

Remember, in a taped interview, they're going to choose only some of what you say to use as sound bites, yet everything you say could be included in the report. 

Here are two techniques that might get you to reveal more than you want:

The first is silence.  Here's how it works. After you've given your answer, the reporter just looks at you, seemingly waiting.  Most people have a tendency to break the silence by saying something more.  Don't do it.  Once you've delivered your message, you're done.  Wait for another question.

The other technique happens at the end of an interview. A reporter may ask, "Is there something else you would like to say?" or "Is there something I've left out?"  or words to that effect.  My recommendation is to add nothing more. The best response is "I think we've covered it."

If you make a comment, do it to reinforce your main points.  You could say something like, "The bottom line here is… or "What's most important to remember is….," then give a brief summary of what you've already said. 

Be careful not to add new information or go in another direction here.

In the edited interview, that last off-topic comment could become the whole story and the story you intended, with your earlier more thought-out answers,will be lost.

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Janet Vasil

On-Camera, Speaker & Media Trainer/Coach at Vasil Media Group | Your Media Moment & Beyond
Virtual Communication Specialist Janet Vasil is a former award-winning, EMMY®-nominated TV Journalist who teaches business professionals to communicate with impact on-camera, in media interviews, and as public speakers. Contact at

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