We’ve almost certainly all heard it.
A spokesperson is being interviewed on radio or television and they start their first response by telling everyone how ‘excited’ they are.
If they are not excited, they are ‘delighted’. And sometimes they are not content with telling everyone once about their exhilaration; they feel we need to know this information multiple times.
This compulsion to talk about excitement seems to happen increasingly often, but it is also something spokespeople should avoid.
Why? Well, there are four very good reasons:
It may sound harsh, but no-one really cares how excited a spokesperson is to be launching a new product or opening a new building.
People want to know what the announcement means for themselves and, if they are not directly impacted, what it means for other people.
You may have heard the expression ‘show don’t tell’. What a spokesperson should be trying to do is show the audience why their announcement is relevant, important and worth knowing.
They should look to tell the audience something that will make them sit-up and listen and display their own enthusiasm through their body language and the energy of their delivery.
The best interviews sound like a conversation and spokespeople should try to use the same language they would use if they were talking to a friend or family member.
And if you were talking to a friend you wouldn’t feel compelled to constantly tell them about your levels of excitement.
Another significant issue with spokespeople telling everyone how ‘excited’ they are is that it can make interviews sound scripted.
Of course, spokespeople should be prepared for media interviews, but if it begins to sound like they are reading out the press release or crib sheet, then interest is going to be quickly lost.
Memorable (for the wrong reasons)
It is a bit like those spokespeople who opt to start every response with ‘so’. When a spokesperson does something unnatural or irritating like that it tends to stick in the memory for all the wrong reasons.
For example, I can still vividly recall an item about the opening of Facebook’s new London office, at the end of last year, on Radio 4.
It was just an interview I happened to stumble across but I just couldn’t get over how determined the spokesperson was to constantly bring the interviews back to how pleased she was.
It led to some awkward exchanges where questions were seemingly ignored or used simply to talk about her exhilaration.
Why is this Facebook woman on #r4today so ‘excited’ about everything?— SSHughes (@sshughes) December 4, 2017
Hi, I’m from Facebook and incredibly excited to pitch you the smiling face of late neoliberal dystopia #r4today— Jonathan Schofield (@schofeld) December 4, 2017
Another interview in a similar vein was BlackBerry boss Stephen Bates’ appearance on BBC Breakfast a few years ago. No matter what he was asked, he was only prepared to talk about how excited he was about a new product launch.
Steph McGovern: You must admit though that it has been a tough few years for you. You've seen your market share fall from nearly 90 per cent at its peak in 2008. What went wrong?
Bates: I'm always excited to be part of this industry. This is a really exciting industry to be in and we are on the verge of a major change towards mobile computing, and we think BlackBerry 10 is going to power us through the next 10 years.
But the ‘excited’ problem is not just consigned to media interviews.
In fact, it is a much larger issue in press releases where it seems almost mandatory to include some contrived quotes from a CEO, director or senior leader tell us how ‘excited’ or ‘delighted’ they are to be announcing something which often transpires to be pretty dull.
Not only do these quotes show a lack of imagination – there are around 50 different words that can be used to convey the same thing - but they are also unlikely to be used.
However, I think there is a greater problem still. If your press release still manages to get the attention of a journalist, that same artificial language invariably finds itself into broadcast interviews.
Some spokespeople, especially the more inexperienced, will feel that that is the type of language they should strive for and the messaging they should focus on.
And ultimately, more people spend more valuable media interview time telling people how excited they are.
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