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How you can improve how you get your message across – by being a FAN of AM

I’m a massive FAN of ABC radio’s AM program and I encourage you to study and learn from it to improve your communication skills – especially when answering questions in your work.

I’d like to stress that I do not work and have never worked for the ABC – but I have been a commentator on political communication techniques and tactics.

Here’s how you can learn from AM

When I train senior executives and professionals how to respond to difficult questions, I teach them a variety of proven techniques:

1.  Not just “answering questions asked”  – but highlighting the messages you want to get across encourage

2. Repeating key words that reinforce the key message you want to get across

3. Speaking in short, sharp “bullet points” of positives – build momentum and outnumber the negatives with positives

4. Pivoting (often using a word from the question) to re-direct to positive messages

I then encourage the executives and I encourage you to continue to improve your question answering skills by studying and learning from AM.

  1. Listen to the program in the mornings to hear how various people in the spotlight respond to questions.
  2.  “Study” the AM website. It is updated during the morning and contains both the audio and text of interviews.  When I hear a good performer, I will later listen to the interview again and study the transcript to see the actual wording.

For example, this morning Wayne Swan demonstrated the techniques mentioned above. Now, I don’t agree with his politics – but I do admire his skill in answering questions – or rather getting across the message he wants to get across. While not a FAN of his politics, I am a big FAN of his communication skill. I hope that even if you don’t like his views, you can benefit from his techniques!

Take a few minutes to sharpen your skills – it’ll be worth it!

I encourage you to listen to his interview and as you listen, listen out for:

  1. How he often doesn’t answer the question asked – but rather starts with what he thinks is important. Listen for the number of times he says important and directs the flow of the interview to what he wants to stress as important.
  2. The number of times he uses the words strength or strong. I reckon in his interview prep he thought about the main message he wanted the audience to leave with – the message that Australia is in a strong position.
  3. How he picks up momentum – delivering short, sharp positive achievement points like verbal bullet points.

Listen for:

  • Solid growth
  • Low unemployment
  • Healthy financial system
  •  Strong public finances
  • A huge investment pipeline.

Also listen for:

  • Solid growth
  • Low unemployment
  • Healthy financial system
  • Strong public finances
  • Huge investment pipeline.
  • Contained inflation
  • 4.How he’ll pivot from the question to what he wants to get across – often using a word (like “numbers”) the questioner uses – once again moving into the short, sharp bullet points.

For example: how he moves from numbers of bad numbers of bad polls to “positive numbers”

  • Unemployment 4.9%
  • A half a trillion dollars invested in the resources sector,
  • Cash rate is at 3.75

As he says: “They are the numbers that concern me.”

I stress, I am not supporting Swan’s politics – I am showing you how  you can  use the techniques he uses to direct a question in a presentation or media interview to more positive territory.

You can use these techniques too when facing difficult questions at work or when dealing with the media.

I encourage you to be a FAN of AM – and study it to improve your communication skills.


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This entry was posted on June 4, 2012 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .
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