How can you help steer the conversation and stay on message? Be a proactive passenger!
When you do an interview with someone or engage in Q&A – it’s like traveling with that person in a car. Whoever is asking the questions is in the driver’s seat, with their foot on the gas pedal, pushing the journey forward. You’re the passenger. You’re a part of the journey but you don’t have as much control as the driver.
When you simply answer questions without thought of bringing in your message, you’re like a passenger simply along for the ride. That’s because in the moment, when you’re nervous or unprepared, you’re more likely to see questions as obligations instead of opportunities. When you just answer questions, without thought of bringing in your message…who knows where you’ll wind up! But if you’re a proactive passenger that means you’re helping steer the conversation towards the message you want the audience to hear.
Here are the two things you need to do to be a proactive passenger:
- Know the headline you want to see: You have to know where you’re going first before you figure out the best way to get there. Where do you want to steer your audience? What do you want them to walk away remembering? Before you start even start speaking you need to think about the headline you would write to summarize your main messages. That headline is then your end goal and where you want your audience to end up with you. Knowing where you want to go makes for a more purposeful and prepared journey. Without a set goal, you’re more likely to blindly answer questions and wind up wherever your audience wants to take you. Having a defined headline in your mind before you even begin talking means you
- Be the voice of navigation: When we use navigation in our cars - we plug in the address of our destination and before we’ve even moved an inch, the navigation knows where it’s going and how to get there. Think of yourself as the voice of navigation. Since you already know where you’re going with your headline, now you need to help yourself get there. If the question doesn’t align with your end goal, re-route the conversation to stay on track. Use your messages and proof points as the stops and turns you need to make to help end at the destination you’ve already decided upon… your headline.
So the next time you’re the one answering questions…don’t let the person in the driver’s seat take you on a joy ride! Know your headline before anything else and know it’s your job to help get there. You’ll end up more focused to stay on the right route toward your end goal