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January 13, 2011
Set For Short Sound Bites?
 
A reporter's microphone represents an opportunity for a message to be broadcast to lots of people, but the message had better be concise—a jewel of a sound bite. Otherwise, it isn't likely to air.  Sound bites are getting shorter, "dropping to a tick under eight seconds," at least for political utterances, reports The Boston Globe, based on research at the University of Nevada. 

Seriously, whether you're a politico or a corporate or organizational spokesperson, the opportunity to be heard in first-person terms, however briefly, is worth practicing for. We keep stressing that a lot of successful communication occurs first in drills, and uttering focused sound bites for colleagues first is truly worth doing.

There are a lot of competing factors when you're standing before a reporter's microphone. Is it going to start raining? Are traffic noises too loud? Does this guy trust me? Does it matter? What will his editor air? Getting as much of your message out as possible to survive an often hasty process requires preparation—first tight, focused messaging, then a bit of practice, even while driving over to the scene of an interview. "Think in sound bites" becomes ever more timely advice as the time allotted for them grows shorter. 

As ever, good public communication requires preparation and practice. Don't try and wing it; you'll regret it, if you haven't already. 

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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