I was involved in a meeting this week to plan the strategy for a public relations response to a negative report that is due out next week.  This doesn’t affect just our school; all the Iowa privates agreed not to submit information to the requesting organization because their motives and methods appear to be unscrupulous.  Nonetheless, we will be “graded” even in the absence of data, and we were meeting to coordinate a response to the inevitable media request.

I was reminded of wise PR counsel from a former staff member: “Remember, they will write what you answer, not what the question was.”  In other words, say what you want reported, regardless of what the question is.  Know what your message is in advance and get that out there one way or the other.

It is great advice for an interview too.  Another friend told me to have three key points that I wanted to make in an interview and to think of them as a triangle.  I could reference one point in one question, then another point on a later question, the third point at another opportunity and then begin again with different examples that reinforce point one.  If you follow this same methodology with the various groups with whom you meet, you will have everyone hearing the same thing, regardless of the variance in questions.

So the next time you’re in the hot seat — on camera or not — prepare in your mind the three points you want to make and stick to them.  Make it about what you say, not about what you’re asked.

— beth triplett

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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