We’ve already established the need for key messages. Usually three key messages will work best but having a fourth in your arsenal as a back up is a good plan. So what happens if the reporter takes a turn and gets you off message. Suddenly you find yourself talking about your dinner plans or world peace instead of your key messages. How do you get them back to your key messages without upsetting the interview.

One of the most effective techniques that interviewees can use to help retain control of an interview is called “bridging.” Verbal bridges allow an interviewee:

  • To steer a reporter back to relevant topics and key messages if he or she loses focus or seems off on an unimportant tangent
  • To move away from controversial, uncomfortable or unflattering topics and back on to key messages
  • To end every answer to every question with a prepared, strategic message

Bridging Techniques

Here are some techniques that have proven to be very useful. When used appropriately, the following “bridges” can serve as effective tools of verbal control and defense:

  • What’s most important is
  • The real issue here is
  • That’s not my area of expertise, but I think your audience would be interested in knowing that
  • Let me just add that
  • That reminds me
  • Let me answer you by saying that
  • That’s an important point because
  • What that means is
  • Another thing to remember is
  • If you look at it closely, you’ll find

If you always keep your mind on your key messages, these tips can be like a trail of bread crumbs leading you back to your key thoughts and control of the interview.