Talk Show Traps: How to Handle the Tough Questions

September 2002
by Bob Karstens

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In today’s media-soaked culture, a series of interviews is a good way to get “buzz” going. But the promise of reward comes with risk, and a lack of preparation for hard questions can spell disaster, defeat, and dejection.

When I was a reporter and news anchor, it was my job to ask those hard questions. They always got the best responses–at least from the media pros, who are trained to stay on message and can usually “spin” faster than a politician can spell “Meet the Press.”

You can learn these verbal acrobatics too by practicing a clever way to handle off-topic, off-the-wall, or even off-color questions. It’s called “verbal bridging” and it will keep you safe when the interviewer starts throwing curves and fastballs.

Even before an interview begins there’s an important step to take. Anticipate those dreaded questions. Ask yourself: What questions do I definitely not want to answer? What topic do I hope is never mentioned? What makes me sweat just thinking about it? Don’t worry about answers. Just make a list of your high-anxiety issues. Later, after you’ve confronted these knuckleball questions, whatever an interviewer throws at you will seem like marshmallows.

 

The ABCs of Verbal Bridging

The verbal bridge has three parts–a beginning, middle, and end which I call Answer, Build, and Control. Let’s say you’…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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