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Turning Questions Into Opportunities
What do you do when you find yourself facing tough topics you want to talk about? Well there’s one simple trick that can save you!
The number one way to navigate tough interviews and make sure your message is heard…is to build a verbal Bridge! “Bridging" means finding the opportunity within the question to get to your message.
To be successful you have to Bridge the right way! Here’s how in 3 steps.
- Answer or acknowledge the question: We’re not politicians. You can’t just ignore the question that’s asked and just talk about what you want to talk about. So you have to first answer or acknowledge the question. If the question is “Where do you live?” Answering that question would be “I live in Scarsdale, NY.” Acknowledging that question would be “I live outside of New York City” or even “I live in New York State.”
- Transition: Start to lead away from the question and towards your message by finding a topic that can relate to both the question and message.
- Bring In Your Message: Deliver your message and if possible support it with a proof point.
Here’s an example:
I was recently at an event at a large university where I wanted to network. My goal was to talk about how I’m a Media Trainer and how I guest lecture at various colleges. I ended up chatting with the head of the university’s communication department, and after some pleasantries he asked me “Where did you go to college” Considering we were standing in a college, it was an appropriate question, but not what I wanted to talk about. Instead of waiting for him to ask me the “right” question that would lead me to my message, I found the opportunity within his question and bridged towards my goal. Here’s what I said:
“I went to the University of Pennsylvania. I majored in communication and ended up working in television news for over a decade. But now I use all my behind-the-scenes journalism knowledge to help my clients become more credible and confident communicators. I’m a Media Trainer and I actually guest lecture at dozens of colleges around the country. I’d love to chat with you more about how I can boost your communication curriculum.”
The question wasn’t “What to do you?” But I answered, found my way to my message, and moved the conversation toward what I wanted to talk about.
Before you try Bridging you need to keep this in mind!
The key is to quickly answer or acknowledge the question asked. You don’t want to spend your time answering a question you didn’t want to talk about in the first place. The bulk of your answer should be spent on your message. Quickly touch upon the question asked and find a way to move forward towards your goal.
- “Bridging” takes you off of defense. You’re now proactively communicating. If I had simply said “I went to the University of Pennsylvania”, and I left it at that, what would the next question be? I’d be on defense hoping the next question goes well.
- “Bridging” moves the conversation forward. You’re suggesting where you want the conversation to go. People remember what they hear last, so chances are the next question will pick up on where you left off. Plus you’re giving your message a chance to be heard.
- “Bridging” takes you away from questions you can’t answer or don’t want to answer. Instead of just saying “I’m not the right person to talk to about that”, find the opportunity within the question. “I’m not the right person to talk to about that, but what I can tell you is….”
So stop waiting for the “right” question to come along and start finding the opportunity to bring in your message! Remember questions aren’t obligations, they’re opportunities! When you want to ensure your message is heard, build a Bridge to get to your goal. Take yourself away from tough topics and towards the headline you want.