If you’ve ever been through a formal media training program, you may have been told to have some soundbites prepared whenever you do an interview. Soundbites are simply short, pre-memorized and colorful or descriptive sentences that you’ll want to use during an interview to answer a journalist’s questions.
There are a number of reasons why creating soundbites can be helpful:
- You have a chance to construct some of what you’re going to say ahead of time so when a reporter asks you a question, you already have a response prepared. This can increase confidence especially for people who don’t have much media experience.
- You can construct the soundbite in such a way that a journalist is going to want to include it in her story. In other words, you’re not just making a statement, but rather making a statement that does a better job getting your point across in language that resonates better for the media.
- You have more control of the direction the interview takes and getting main points across to the reader.
Here are six things to help guide you as you’re putting together sound bites for your media interviews.
- Use analogies: The idea is to take what you know and put it into a comparison form to help people better understand the point you are trying to make. “I’m not sure what the American people were thinking voting in this administration, but it’s like handing the keys to the Ferrari to someone who doesn’t have a license and has never sat behind the wheel before.” Or, “This house is so messy it’s like a hurricane came through.”
- Make it visual when you can: When constructing your phrases, draw a visually-compelling picture. The idea is to help people see it. Use colors. Use words like large or small. Think adjectives and descriptiveness. “It looks like a big blue ocean just rocking back and forth.”
- Touch their emotions: Think about the mood you are trying to set in your interview. Do you want people to feel happy, motivated, angry, etc.? Craft your sound bites to hit on emotions.
- Three’s company: The idea is to lay out a plan in three steps for people to take. “Go visit your doctor, get an honest evaluation if you are a candidate for this therapy, and compare the pros and cons when making your decision.”
- Add humor (when appropriate): Humor can work well when the time is right or when trying to put people at ease. “My patient asked me how much experience I have with this procedure, to which I told him I’ll do a better job than the Atlanta Falcons did in the Super Bowl.”
- Rhymes and catchy phrases: To help people remember something, use rhymes and catchy phrases. “You can’t get to where you want to be if you don’t know where you are or where you’ve been.”
Remember, soundbites are great to help convey your message, but don’t be too stuck on using them all the time. You don’t want to lose the ability to think on your feet and speak freely. I also recommend that you practice the delivery of your soundbites and make it sound as natural as possible, not like something you planned out ahead of time.