Advanced Presentation Skills:
Last tip we talked about how you structure an answer when responding to questions. This time we deal with the final optional step known as “bridging”.
This technique is used to defuse hostile or contentious questions and works on the principle that people tend to remember the start and the end of what you say and forget the middle part. It is particularly important if you are putting yourself forward as a media spokesperson. The key here is preparation. When you are anticipating and planning questions we talked about being your own devil’s advocate and thinking about the tough questions or the questions you hope they do not ask. Having identified the tough question think about how you could turn it around using a short positive sound bite. Then it is a case of committing it to memory through practising and rehearsing prior to the event. The best sound bites look and sound natural but are actually the result of a lot of hard work and practice.
Here is an example taken from the Gulf War.
By way of context, if you remember the Americans were intercepting the Iraqi scud missiles using Patriot missiles and the response times in Saudi Arabia were different than when they were launched at the Israelis. The press was looking for a story and this is how General Schwartzkopf handled the question:
“Why did the Patriots perform so badly in defending Israel?”
We are extremely proud of the way Patriot performed in both Saudi Arabia and Israel!
In Saudi Arabia, we had several months of lead time for set-up and training, whereas in Israel we had to engage the first Scud attack only 15 hours after arriving.
Heavier damage occurred in Israel from debris, because the country is so much more densely populated than Saudi Arabia
The real story is the countless lives saved in both countries because of Patriot!
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