I have four Vince Flynn thrillers piled on the floor by my bed right now. I stay up way too late reading them, glancing at the clock saying to myself, “I should stop now.” But I don’t. They are more than page turners, they are enthralling. They put you in the world of politics, danger, revenge and love. These are elements of the greats like Shakespeare. And though not written with the same eloquence or insight, Vince Flynn’s books still pull you through a world of intrigue and assassinations. Your media interview should have that same thrilling quality – like you’re taking people on a tour of your life and work, inviting them into your a place where you know things that they don’t. Maybe there is melodrama and machinations. Maybe there is high intensity and ideas that inflame. Whether there are or not, here are 5 qualities to make your media appearance as engaging as a Vince Flynn thriller.
1. It’s economical.
Vince Flynn sets up each character clearly detailing what they look like and a few telling personality characteristics. Then he sets up a dynamic of another character who opposes whatever agenda the first character has. By creating tension he has our attention. Create your answers to interview questions with economy by choosing only the essential details that will set up your story or point. Eliminate the rest. These might be a quick visual description so we “see” what you’re talking about. One of the most famous sound bites in history comes from an ad that Earnest Hemingway wrote:
Baby shoes for sale. Never been worn.
You see and feel the whole story in just two lines. Practice telling a story in two or three lines. In this one you have life and death, the two most powerful opposing forces juxtaposed side by side in just two sentences. See how economical you can be and still create engagement.
2. It’s fast-paced.
By speaking in shorter sentences your media interview will give your audience impression of moving along swiftly – like a thriller. Vince Flynn’s chapters are short. Each one is a complete story in itself. Once you finish reading a chapter you can’t wait to read the next one. Within each chapter his sentences are short which compresses time so you have the same sense of urgency that the characters have.
By making your sound bites each a complete and fulfilling story you’ll have your audience wanting more. When my private clients first engage me to media train them most most tend to speak in long, drawn out sentences and their stories meander in many different directions. We practice creating a cohesive stories in twenty to thirty seconds that have a clear beginning, middle and end. Each sentence moves the story forward in a decisive linear way. Each sound bite story has a definitive ending.
When I media coach my clients to do this it gives them two great advantages in a media appearance. First they lead the audience confidently through their story so the audience trusts them to be knowledgeable and stay on track. We trust people who give us clear direction. We don’t trust people who ramble. They are often perceived as not having a sharp mind and to be inconsiderate time-wasters. Second, people who speak concisely signal the interviewer when they are done with their definitive ending. I recommend that my clients pause after completing a story which creates breathing space and then allows the interviewer the time to ask his next question. This creates a relaxed flow of conversation. Many beginner media guests bemoan sound bites as the dumbing down of ideas – but they can be quite the opposite. You can still create deep resonance with economy of language. Study the famous Japanese Haiku poets who make you feel sadness, longing, and desire in four lines. Here’s one of my favorites. Notice how concrete and visual it is. This haiku is fast paced, beautiful and deep. Your sound bites can be the same.
The temple bell stops
But the sound
out of the flowers
3. It has clashes.
Vince Flynn has lots of heated arguments in his New York Times best-selling thrillers. His characters each have their own agendas – and have to prove to each other that their agenda is the one to follow. They voice their opinions strongly and back them up with concrete experience and hard facts. One of the best ways to get media attention is to be controversial. Combine that with informed opinion and you’ll have a great advantage over your competitors to be a chosen media guest.
Strong emotion equals good ratings. To create strong emotions you can tell a moving story and back it up with facts and statistics. Here’s a little know fact: You can get the same effect as having a person with the opposite point of view debate with you on TV by being your own debater. So if you set up your point of view and also the opposing point of view to an issue and cover both points of view you have an instant element of intrigue. We love to hear about how others try to knock you or your ideas down. We love to see how you triumph over hard-headed opinion or false facts. Create your own clashes and you could be an in-demand media guest in a hurry.