Throughout the years I’ve advised countless clients who are seeking to be more “mediagenic” to learn to speak in soundbites. I’ll explain exactly what that means in a bit, but let’s start by saying this is one of the single most important skills for you to learn not only to be attractive to the media, but to attract clients and joint venture partners effortlessly as well.
Most of us, including your target audience, are chronically maxed out for time and short on attention span. Learning to communicate in a concise, colorful way that captures attention and is easily remembered, can put you miles ahead of others in your field who have not mastered this skill.
Mark Twain felt that good speaking should have “a minimum of sound to a maximum of sense” and that applies neatly to soundbites. To give you a better idea of what soundbites are, here are some great examples:
- “We are the 99 percent!” — Occupy Wall Street movement
- “Justice has been done.” — President Obama announcing Osama bin Laden’s death
- “There will be a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” — President Hoover promising prosperity for the nation
- “Your genes load the gun but your environment pulls the trigger.” — Dr. Oz explaining how people get illnesses like cancer
- “We were told a rising tide would raise all boats, but actually a rising tide raised all yachts.” – Warren Buffet, investment tycoon, explaining how he thinks tax cuts for millionaires have benefitted only the wealthy.
When you hear those short, pithy statements you instantly understand the meaning, without a lot of words, and you tend to remember them. Most of them also evoke an emotional response, which is key in being memorable. Get the emotions involved and the brain follows. That’s how the entire world of advertising, promotions and sales works.
Here are a few tips to help you formulate your own soundbites:
- Avoid jargon—soundbites must be easily understood by most people.
- Have some substance—SAY something. Just being clever is not enough.
- Be memorable. Nearly 90 years later people still use the “chicken in every pot” quote.
- Use action words, not passive voice.
- Use metaphors and analogies, like the Dr. Oz gun/trigger quote above.
- Inject emotion—Get listeners to FEEL something, make them laugh or be shocked perhaps.
- Tighten it up—Use the least amount of words possible.
- Use the power of three—Make 3 short points in your soundbite. Again, brevity is key.
- Finally, don’t overuse soundbites. If every other phrase you say comes out sounding like a tagline, you will be perceived as too slick and salesy. Also, if you use a normal conversational manner most of the time, your soundbites will stand out like a movie marquee and grab more attention.
Using these tips, you will be more easily understood and this can help you get quoted more often and avoid misquotes. Soundbites make you infinitely more attractive to media, as this is their official language, especially on TV or radio. The average soundbite from an interviewed person in a TV news story is about 8-12 seconds. That’s not a lot of time, so your comments must get right to the point in a way that is catchy and memorable. This skill is essential to your media success and helps you elsewhere in your business.
Do you currently use soundbites in your business? What tips can you share that helped you? Leave a comment here–we’d love to hear about it!