doubleshot media

for a strong, fast pick-me-up

How to answer questions concisely and convincingly – like Matt Burke in #Rugby Coverage


Do you wish you could answer questions better?

Many smart and knowledgable people I know have trouble answering questions.

They say too much. They know too much. And they confuse their audience.

So what was the actual answer to the question? – people are left thinking.

I started out my professional life as a lawyer and lots of my mates are lawyers.
And lawyers and former lawyers can really struggle in giving a straight, clear and concise answer.

I know lawyers sometimes need to be “deliberately vague” with “that depends” type answers – but sometimes we all need to be clear and concise.

A clear, concise answer can make you sound confident and when you “back up” your point with some concise “evidence” – your point sounds even more convincing.

What’s this got to do with Matt Burke and the Bledisloe Cup coverage?

MB commentating

We can ALL learn from Matt Burke’s smooth yet confident “moves”.

When I watch the Bledisloe Cup coverage – I also pay careful attention to the communication skills and team work of the commentators.

I watch the game first for the excitement – then I’ll go back and analyse the moves of the commentators.

In Rugby, lots of people have different opinions and I’m always keen to listen to Burke and Mortlock and Bray and how they express themselves.

In my opinion, the host Scott Mackinnon does a good job of keeping it together, keeping it moving and “feeding” the others. Then he steps back and lets them get on with it!

I came from a league-watching background – and I need as much help as I can get from the commentators in understanding the complexities of Union 🙂

TB LL mosaic

One thing I DO know however – is how to duck and weave OR be direct in presenting live or on camera.

I often help CEOs and even politicians improve their communication skills.

So, when you are asked a question – here’s how to give a strong, confident and concise answer.

Right at the start of the Bledisloe Cup Coverage – Scott MacKinnon asks Matt Burke:

Is 2014 the year? (for the Wallabies to finally win their first victory since 2002)

Burke gives an answer that is a “text book” communication move – simple but effective.

1. You start with your short statement (Point) that answers the question right up front rather than “warming up” to it.
2. You back it up with some brief reasons to support your POINT
3. You end strongly with a re-statement of your initial point. It doesn’t have to be the exact same words – but you deliver the same message.
4. You stop! Don’t ramble on any longer.

MB look to audience2

So here’s how Burke answered that question.

So is 2014 the year?

1. short statement – I think it is.

2. Back up with reasons why. The preparation’s been fantastic. Coming off the back of 3 test win against France and the European tour

3. So, the expectation is in the air.

4. Stop after ending strongly. Don’t ramble on any further.

When I train execs – especially Rugby-loving ones, we try to make it fun and I get them into the habit of putting down/planting a big full-stop (period in the US) after their last statement.

Or as I say to the Rugby-loving execs: It’s like placing that ball down after scoring a try.


(This try was of course from an earlier Wallablies victory against France) – but you get the point of “planting a big full stop or pause” after your strong statement you end on!

I seem to get lots of Kiwis in our sessions and of course there’s lots of friendly rivalry.

Also, the SO works well in setting up for the final statement that ties back to the original statement that answers the question.

So, next time your are asked a question, try this simple yet effective technique.

1. Strong, definitive statement
2. Back it up with some short reasons
3. Say “SO” or “that’s why”, then deliver your last statement that reinforces your first statement.
4. Stop. Plant that full-stop/pause/ball.

boys and balls

If you’re interested, here are some more lessons we can ALL learn from Watching the Bledisloe Cup.

It’s great when you can use one of your passions in your work!

1.The Matt Burke “inclusive glance” trick to draw in the audience

2. Commentator team work – knowing when to take the lead and when to follow

3.Knowing how to “stretch” during “dead air”


If you enjoyed this post – Let’s connect:

If you found this post interesting you can follow me and connect with me.
I blog about fun pop culture stuff as well as more serious business communication tips.
Linked In – under Tony Biancotti

Or you can follow this blog.

These days, lots of people and organisations need help with how to COPE with too much work, too much information, too many meetings, delivering difficult news, business writing, effective e-mail, e-mail overload, cross-cultural communication, better social media engagement etc. I like to help people COPE.



3 comments on “How to answer questions concisely and convincingly – like Matt Burke in #Rugby Coverage

  1. Pingback: Ewen McKenzie – side-stepping difficult questions – go wide, go forward | efangelist

  2. efangelist
    January 10, 2016

    Reblogged this on efangelist.

  3. AnilKumar BK
    August 10, 2017

    Great answer man FULL STOP

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s