We have sadly become all too familiar with politicians talking around questions when being interviewed, rather than giving a direct answer or any meaningful facts. Worse still, it is becoming increasingly popular to ‘double down’, backing up or repeating such responses and the opinions which surround them, simply because some people think by doing so will make any difficult questions go away.
They don’t. And being seen to be deliberately economic with the truth, or ‘spinning’ news in a way which suits a politicians or their party’s needs has played a key part in the developing mistrust of those in public life.
Whenever you speak, write or even publicly discuss issues – whether difficult to address or not, it is vital to have researched, understood and retained as many of the key facts that you can, and to have developed a viewpoint or interpretation which fits with the information you have received.
Facts and the genuine knowledge that you have are the anchors which give you credibility in the public eye.
Writing & producing literature
When writing about topics, you will normally have the luxury of time to validate information and facts before you send or publish whatever you have produced. It is a very good habit to use it and ensure that you have included as much factual data as you can to support your argument or conclusions.
Speaking, debate & Interviews
The upside of public speaking, debate and scheduled interviews is that you will normally be aware of what you will be asked to talk about, or what specific points or issues you may wish to raise.
As with writing or preparing documents that you will later publish, you should research your subject well, prepare key facts to support what you will say and be comfortable that you can communicate your interpretation without losing your way or talking your way around the houses.
The downside of public speaking, debate and interviews of any kind, is that is likely that you will be asked questions to which you have not prepared a response.
If you keep on top of your subject, and think about the implications of all new facts as you do, your preparedness will allow you to provide responses that demonstrate how well researched you are.
Sometimes, you will get asked a question of some kind for which it was in no way possible to prepare. When you do, don’t bluff, blag or be tempted to lie or shift the focus on to something or someone else.
The best thing you can do is come clean; be honest and tell the interviewer or person questioning you that you don’t have that information to hand, that you were unaware of the events/actions that they have raised, or that you are not in a position to comment at that stage.
Even a Prime Minister, with all the support that they have can and will be caught out by questions that they were not expecting. It is human to not have the answers to everything and the people who might vote for you will think of you as being much stronger for being consistently honest, rather than if you lie in an attempt to cover up feeling momentarily weak.
- Be as prepared as possible
- Research your subjects as widely as you can
- Use credible sources for information
- When you write, use facts and validated information as anchors to build your arguments and conclusions upon. Use links to your sources as much as possible
- When you are going to be interviewed or speak publicly and know what you might be talking about, research the subject and have your facts and interpretation ready
- If you are asked a question in which the questioner provides news or information you were previously unaware of, do not respond to the information it as if it were a credible fact
- If you don’t know the answer to a question, come clean and be honest. Say you don’t know and never be tempted to lie – no matter how easy it might feel to do so
- If you feel put on the spot, don’t point the finger, start blaming others or make it personal about someone else in an attempt to get yourself out of bother