Here are three phrases you should avoid uttering and the reasons why:
1. “No comment”. Imagine you’re the audience, not the interviewee. We ask delegates on our media training courses whether they’ve ever heard an interviewee come out with this phrase (or a variation of it, such as, “I’d rather not comment”) – what did it convey to them?
Invariably they say, “The interviewee sounds defensive, as if they have something to hide”. If you don’t want to talk about something, perhaps with perfectly good reason (the information might help your competitors or there’s an on-going investigation, so it would be inappropriate), then say so in another form of words, but explain why you can’t discuss it, e.g., “I understand why you’re asking me that, but the answer would only help our rivals!”.
2. “Going forward”. This has become a completely meaningless filler phrase. It adds nothing. For example, “Going forward we will open five new factories…/Going forward we will consider changing our policy”. The future tense is more than enough.
3. “Actually, I think the question you should be asking me is…” This is tantamount to telling the journalist how to do their job. Yes, you might want to steer them away from the subject of their question, but not like this! It simply makes the journalist wonder why you don’t seem to want to answer their question and they’ll ask it again. So here’s what you’ve “achieved”: you’ve avoided the question and, to make matters worse, it’s been posed again, so any negative language it contained has been repeated…and you’ve still got to answer it. The classic double whammy.
So those are just three things you shouldn’t say. Of course there are plenty more, as well as key things you should say. Look out for those in our subsequent blogs (or contact us for one of our media training sessions!).