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Don’t let others put ‘bad’ words in your mouth – learn from skilled politicians

We can all learn from skilled politicians on how to present well and avoid others putting negative words in your mouth. This will help you if you are business spokesperson answering questions or a politician facing the media – or anyone facing opposition in a meeting.


(Jackie Trad – a skilled ‘media performer”  – we can all borrow techniques from)

This post was inspired by listening to an exchange this week between ABC presenter Steve Austin and veteran politician – Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad. I am not connected with Jackie or Steve in any way – other than being an admirer of both of their styles.

I like the way Steve keeps pressing with questions and doesn’t tolerate interviewee deflection and distraction. He is persistent – although I think in this exchange, though he used the word rort often in the interview, he knew he would not get Jackie Trad to say it.

And he kept pressing Jackie as to whether she agreed that certain Queensland Rail practices were a rort. He’d use his trademark techniques of adding words either at the start of his question or as a tag question:

  1. Do you agree? + Question


2. tag question –  Overtime was being rorted. Do you agree?

then slightly rephrasing the question

3. Do you think that’s a rort?

Now, here are the two techniques you can borrow from Jackie Trad when someone is trying to put words into your mouth. Notice the way she would not accept nor even repeat the negative word – rort.

Technique  1.  A handy response reflex.

In response to

Do you think that’s a rort?

You seize on wording in the question (in this case think) – then ‘pivot’ to your message.

I think that…(your message)

Or…you could say

What I DO think is….(your message where you don’t use the negative word.)

It’s a handy response reflex that you can develop and perfect with practice.

Another variation is:

When a questioner tries this:

Q: So you’re saying...(putting words in your mouth)

You respond with:

A: What I AM saying is…(your message)

Technique 2. You let the interviewer/questioner AND the audience know that you will not be adopting the questioner’s negative word no matter how often they use the negative word.

You say something like Jackie’s response:

As I’ve said…and as I will keep saying…(your message)


TB Lateline

I hope that helps you. In helping politicians and business presenters over many years, I’ve learned lots of techniques on how to get across the message YOU want to deliver and calmly and confidently defend against any attempt to change your message – and in particular put negative words into your mouth.


One comment on “Don’t let others put ‘bad’ words in your mouth – learn from skilled politicians

  1. doubleshot media
    January 8, 2018

    Reblogged this on doubleshot media.

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This entry was posted on February 9, 2017 by in Uncategorized.
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