TALKING POINTS

1. something that lends support to an argument;
2. a subject of discussion;
3. the specific discussion points that you need to get across.

You’ve done the homework to know the story that you want to tell, and the angles that you can use to approach the story, but what are the bullet points that must be included?  What are the most important things that need to be heard?  These are your talking points.  Often the talking points are things that were included in the press release and will need to be included in your pitch, sometimes it is new information, sometimes it is a combination of the two.  

Regardless of what form they take, you need to know the specific messages that need to be conveyed in your outreach, conversation, or interview.  Write down the important nuggets of information and then organize them in importance or in the order of the story that you are telling.  

You need to answer the traditional questions – who, what, where, when, why and how?  One of my favorite things to tell clients is that it doesn’t matter what question you’re asked, it only matters what answer you want to give.  Sure, if you can relate your answer to the question, all the better.  But don’t forget that an interview is your opportunity to tell your story!

Some interview suggestions are:

  • Keep your answers brief
  • Always remember eye contact.
  • Be still and don’t fidget.
  • If you are in a group and one person is speaking, be sure to look at that person.
  • Be truthful, but not negative.
  • If you don’t know the answer, it’s OK.  Don’t make something up.
  • You are not obligated to answer a question if you are uncomfortable.
  • Use the question in your answer.
  • People will want to discuss your personal life as well as your professional life – feel free to discuss your family, friends, hobbies, etc as you are comfortable.  You are never obligated to share information that you do not want to.
  • Be careful about disclosing specific personal information.  Speak generally about where you live.
  • Stories are the foundation of every great interview.  Remember that they should be short and have a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Your anecdotes, your personal stories, will be developed over time. As a rule, these are stories that you have fun telling and would come to mind easily if you were in the most informal party conversation.
  • The key to a good interview, like everything else, is PREPARATION – nervousness, demonstrated by that lack of eye contact and general uneasiness, are only a result of feeling ill-prepared.
  • Try to avoid verbal tics such as “like,” “um,” “you know,” and “you know what I mean.”

There is no such thing as “off the record.”  Anything you say in an interview is fair game.

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