1. Use a General Bio.
Soundbiting starts even before you appear on a TV or radio show. Your bio is the first introduction to you and it’s your first soundbite–even though you’re not the one to say it. Most people leave this introduction up to the TV or radio host and that’s their first mistake. Controlling the public’s perception of you begins with the bio. Even if you have hired a publicist, this job is still yours as your publicist won’t have the time for this level of detail.
Your bio should be two to four lines and specifically tailored to the topic you’ll be discussing. I highly suggest that you create bios for every single subject you pitch to the media. One of my clients didn’t have time to do this when she dashed into the studio to comment on breaking news for a major network. The result? She was labeled a psychologist because she had a “PhD” after her name. She was not a psychologist or therapist, but a wellness expert. Not the end of the world, but a blip in her branding.
On the positive side, one of my clients who is an expert in Huna, the ancient science of Hawaiian wisdom passed down to modern day through a lineage, developed several separate bios. There are many different aspects of Huna, one of which is Ho’oponopono, The Hawaiian Code of Forgiveness.
When he was speaking directly about this aspect of Huna, his bio reflected that focus. When the angle was about mental infidelity, cheating in your head, his bio emphasized his experience in dealing with the thousands of people in his seminars seeking loving, long-lasting, rewarding and hot relationships. When you angle your bio to your expertise within a given niche you deepen your credibility.
2. Meander Meaninglessly.
Don’t squander time. You have a precious few minutes to convey your essential messages to people who have nano attention spans. Writer Vladimir Nabokov said, “Caress the divine details.” It’s your job to first discover the details that matter and then sort out what is divine from the worldly dross of all that you know.
The problem most people have is not knowing too little, but knowing too much and then choosing what is relevant to the audience they are speaking to. That can differ widely in all the media mediums. You’ll want to create a core of 6 essential messages that you then expand and contract, and add and subtract specific details to tailor them to particular audience. This takes enormous skill and practice.
3. Don’t Demonstrate.
Talking heads get dull. TV is a visual medium so it loves action, props, movement. Whenever you can prove a point by demonstration it increases its effectiveness for several reasons. You’re getting the host involved physically, and research shows that when two people who are interacting with each other are in motion, not only do they remember better and learn more, but they feel more connected. Marci Shimoff, author of Happy For No Reason, and one of the teachers in the DVD The Secret did this exceptionally well in her NBC’s The Today Show appearance.
Marci asked The Today Show host Meredith Vieira to put her arm straight out to her side and pushed down on it. This is called “muscle testing.” It was strong and stayed in the same position. Then she asked Meredith to say “I’m not good enough” three times. When Marci pushed on Meredith’s arm it went right down, Meredith couldn’t keep it out straight and strong.
Finally, she asked Meredith to say “I’m good enough” three times. Meredith’s arm stayed out straight and strong even with Marci pushing on it hard. Marci’s point? Negative thoughts and words weaken us. Strong thoughts and words strengthen us.
Marci Shimoff was an excellent guest. Well rehearsed yet natural and engaging.
4. Don’t Back Opinions or Ideas with Facts.
The whole focus of NBC’s The Today Show appearance for Marci Shimoff was not “about” her book, but about a trend in the American culture. Marci stated that we have an “epidemic of unhappiness.” She backed up that strong statement with the fact that 1 in every 5 women are on antidepressants. And 30% of the people report being deeply unhappy. In addition, Americans have 60,000 thoughts per day, 80% of which are negative. This data is startling and Marci delivered it in a warm yet precise manner, with no hype.
One of the most validating ways to be taken seriously is to research statistics that support your views and quote them accurately. To gain even greater credibility, do original survey studies yourself. If this is a possibility for you, you’ll be an outstanding source. The media are always looking for new data on fresh and old ideas.