Media interviews, whether they are for TV or radio, can be challenging. Difficult questions are often asked. If you’ve watched recent interviews on the news with the Government during the Covid pandemic, you can understand how these can make ministers apprehensive.

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Handling difficult questions and coming up with answers that satisfy requires good preparation before the interview. Even with the best prep, however, you can always be thrown a curveball or two by the interviewer.

That’s where the bridging phrase comes in and is so useful.

What is a Bridging Phrase?

Avoiding answering the question is generally a mistake in TV and radio interviews. All it does it get the interviewer to press more.

A bridging phrase is a way of briefly answering the question and then turning the conversation to what you want to discuss.

Done well, it moves you seamlessly away from a controversial issue so that the watching public hardly notice. It’s a difficult skill to master, of course, but one that can serve you well in the future once you learn to use it well.

A bridging phrase can be something like:

  • I really understand why your viewers may have those concerns but…
  • I haven’t got that particular information to hand, unfortunately, what I understand, however, is this…
  • Of course, it’s important, but we must now…

Listen to an interview with a government representative on TV or radio and you will probably hear several phrases like this within the space of a few minutes.

When Should I Use Bridging Phrases?

Ideally, you should always try to answer any question clearly and concisely to the best of your ability. There may be issues, however, that you don’t want to explore fully on TV in front of an audience, either because of sensitivity or you simply don’t have the right answer to hand.

The examples above could be delivered in more detail if you feel comfortable with the subject but the object is always to move the conversation gently onto something else.

There are a couple of caveats when using bridging phrases:

  • It’s essential not to overuse them as it can start to sound as if you are being evasive. If you know what difficult questions are likely to come up then try to develop and practice appropriate answers beforehand.
  • It’s also important to practice using bridging phrases. They can sound disingenuous or awkward if not used properly and make it seem to the audience (and the interviewer) that you are avoiding the question.
  • Bridging questions are useful in crisis management, but they can be tricky to get right. If you get it wrong, then the journalist is likely to come back with follow up questions to probe more deeply, particularly if they believe you are avoiding the issue. It is important to make sure the switch that follows the bridging phrase aligns with what you are discussing and doesn’t go off on a completely different tangent.

Bridging phrases are an essential tool for TV and radio interviews. One way to learn how to use them is to watch practised interviewees and see how they incorporate them when an awkward or unexpected question is asked.

Practising using bridging phrases will develop your skill and make your conversation seem natural when you next come to be interviewed on a difficult subject. We offer a range of media training options for any size of organisation and can deliver this online very successfully if required. Talk to the team at Hawkeye Media today about how they can help you succeed with the media.