A mistake some journalists make when reporting is running at the mouth. They become so engrossed in their stories and extraneous details, they take us down a path of way too much information. Brevity and being concise is not their strength. I see it often in live shots. Reporters feel obligated to talk and they keep doing so until they’ve basically moved onto a new topic. And sometimes we no longer know what the heck they’re even saying.
This also is one of the biggest problems I see when conducting media training. Consider it like one of those small snowballs that rolls and rolls until it becomes this giant monster of ice thundering full speed down a hill. People start off nailing their key messages but feel obligated to keep talking. One thing leads to another and before they know it, they’re giving enough details for a CSPAN special.
This leads to a bigger problem during media training. As people dig deeper into details, the details are more difficult to manage. They are harder to explain. And sometimes, the details flowing out someone’s mouth are incorrect. Someone else in the room will say, “Well, that’s not exactly correct.” That’s when someone slides into the rabbit hole and reporters pounce, sensing a bigger story.
Keep your answers simple. Stick to your headlines. Don’t delve into the nitty, gritty details unless absolutely necessary. No one is requiring your answers to be a certain length. Don’t feel awkward and obligated to keep schooling a journalist on a subject. Often, the best choice is just be quiet for a moment.