Media Interviews: Lose the Jargon

Lose the jargon and improve your communication skills

Picture the scene. A Doctor is about to give an interview about some crucial research he is doing in heart surgery. During the interview, the doctor starts to mention scientific terms such as “anastamosis” and “ablation”. To him they are second nature and everyday language. However his audience, quite reasonably, haven’t got a chance of understanding him. As a result the interviewer is forced to answer more questions to clarify the scientific terms. It disrupts the flow of the interview and cuts invaluable air time for follow up questions and discussion. In this example the doctor failed to lose the jargon surrounding his topic.

Industry jargon is something that 100% of our media training clients never think that they are using, but always end up using in their answers when they are put under the pressure situation of a media interview. It’s instinctive. Everyone uses their industry jargon to sound informed and up to date, and that’s exactly how one wants to come across in a media interview. However this is an instinct that must be corrected to guarantee effective communication.

In all interviews it’s crucial to simplify your ideas in a way that your audience can easily understand. Don’t feel like by losing the jargon you are “dumbing down”. By using plain and simple language you are giving yourself the best chance of connecting with your audience.

Here are two simple rules that you need to take into consideration before you talk to reporters:

1. Talk to your audience not the media

Most people put reporters in the pedestal. Remember that the reporter is not your audience. The people reading or watching the story is your audience. A good rule of thumb is that an intelligent 13 year old should be able to understand everything you say. Why an intelligent 13 year old can understand any concept explained without jargon or technical language. Also your audience are most probably only paying half their attention or less to the screen or radio. It’s important to be as clear as possible to grab their attention.

2. Prepare your message

A lot of spokespeople reject this rule because they don’t want to sound scripted. However, the common complaint amongst unprepared spokespeople after the interview is that their main message is that their best stuff was left in on the cutting room floor. To avoid this make sure you have some pre-planned, jargon free soundbites up your sleeve. Preferably that you’ve tested on a few colleagues or friends and family. Choose words that will capture the audience’s imagination. Journalists and editors love a good soundbite. If properly used you will maximise the chances of getting your message across.

In today’s fast-paced media there’s no room for mistakes. A bad interview can damage your reputation and may even be picked up by other media channels and used against you. In a media training session with First Take our expert trainers focus strongly on analysing your answers and removing the jargon from your language. Media training assists you in delivering your message smoothly and coming out of the interview with your reputation enhanced and your message well and truly understood.

Do you have a media interview coming up? Downloading our free Media Interview Preparation Template will really help you focus your thoughts and get you prepared for the interview. Filling it in should take about 10 minutes. If you complete it and return it to us, we will be happy to get back to you ASAP with bespoke tips to help you make the very best impression possible. This is a totally free service.
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