The Beauty of Being Brief

Published by - 17/02/2014

Did you know that a typical TV news report is only two minutes long? It helps to explain why the pithy sound bite is so important.

If a reporter has three people to interview and each of their answers is 20 seconds long, there’s often only a minute left for the script to tell the story. It may not be impossible to explain a complicated issue in 60 seconds, but it’s certainly not easy!

That’s why all journalists appreciate people who can make their point convincingly, engagingly – and succinctly. Ten seconds will do for a TV report, 15 seconds for a radio bulletin – and 20 or so words for a newspaper quote.

It is possible to make a compelling point in such a short space of time. In fact, the briefer the comment, the more powerful it often is. But there is a knack to it.

So if you are going to be an interviewed by a journalist, make sure you prepare in advance. Be clear on the two or three things you really want to say, and then work out how to make those points as concisely as possible. Speak in short sentences and use simple words. It’s even worth practising and timing yourself!

This may seem like a lot of effort, but it’s worth remembering that journalists would prefer you to provide an effective quote than a rambling answer which leads nowhere. And if you can develop the knack of speaking in punchy sound bites, you’ll gain a reputation of being a ‘good value’ interviewee. Then your chances of gaining regular publicity in the media will definitely increase.