Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Smug.

If you really want to give "good interview" then you need to be aware of your flaws, for me it's verbosity; why use one word when a florid collection of thirty will do?


My colleagues in the radio industry still talk (in hushed tones) about my fascinating, beautifully crafted and intricate link that went on for five and a half minutes. That's right, five and a half minutes, without hesitation and still with a coherent train of thought. It was, however, five and a half minutes when I could have done it in less than one. My boss pointed out the behemoth and since then I have always been aware that I can just go on a bit when the wind is behind me and it's something that I now watch very carefully.

Francis Maud MP Cabinet Office Minister has a problem with smug, and someone ought to tell him. I don't just want to pick on The Rt. Hon. Mr Maude, there are many others from all works of life that suffer from 'the smugs' it's just that this morning on BBC Breakfast he showed himself to be patient zero.

If you want to avoid the same fate as Francis Maud here are some tips...

1 - Do not steam roller over the end of questions. You may be eager to put your view to the nation but stepping on the end of the question gives the two pronged impression of being so clever that you don't need the rest of the question, and that it doesn't matter what you're being asked because you're just going to say what you want any way. (And in this case you make Sian Williams look cross and no one wants that)

2 - The kind voice, oooh the kind voice, if you're wondering what I mean then have a look at this http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13773800 (this is the news clip not the Sian Williams live but the effect is the same) it's that tone that's a cross between the Doctor explaining that you're going to have your leg off, and the Headmaster who's terribly disappointed in you but doesn't want to be discouraging. Tone of voice is a hugely difficult thing to manage, and there seems to be a trend, probably since Thatcher to adopt a 'the Government really does know best' tone when talking about difficult issues. So how do you get around this? Being aware of it is a very good start...

3 - Careful with the eyebrow action. It's interesting to see that there are a number of research papers looking at eyebrows and the amount that they are raised, and they point to eyebrows being raised as a form of facial emphasis. In this case it's the sections starting '...cross party consensus...', '...proposals made by Lord Hutton a former Labour Secretary of State...' and then on '...asking their members to give up a days pay...'. The result of these dramatic eyebrow raises is to communicate a passing of the blame for the decisions and the subsequent hardship to someone else.

The problem is that when you're being smug, pompous, bolshie, cross, baity, snide, sarcastic, all the things that you should avoid in interviews, especially filmed interviews, you need someone looking at the tape to tell you what you're doing, and after that someone to work with you to stop doing it.

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