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How to Give a Great Sound Bite

Ever heard the saying, "It's not what you say, but how you say it?" If not, you may want to brush up on your media basics before hitting primetime.


  • Step 1: Repeat yourself Repeat yourself. Start by telling them what you’re going to tell them. Then tell them. Then tell them what you told them.
  • TIP: Find a central keyword or thesis and circle your points back to it.
  • Step 2: Keep it short and simple Keep your comments short — around the five-second mark — and give them a definitive end.
  • Step 3: Be yourself Be yourself—don’t fake it. If you’re the elbow-patch-wearing academic type, avoid the overalls and folksy phrases.
  • Step 4: Sip from a glass of water Since you can’t talk while you’re drinking, use a sip to add a dramatic pause, collect your thoughts, or simply shut yourself up.
  • Step 5: Leave some space Leave a small pause before and after the sentence or phrase that’s most important. This space gives it an air of gravity, and makes it easy for the news media to edit around it.
  • Step 6: Don't plagiarize Don’t plagiarize. Ever. You’ll never live it down.
  • Step 7: Repeat yourself Did we mention this? Repeat yourself.
  • Step 8: Use gestures Rehearse three or four powerful gestures and use them sparingly to add emphasis to your most important points. Alternate your moves.
  • Step 9: Smile Sell it with a smile, but as with all emotions, save your pearly whites for an appropriate moment.
  • Step 10: Repeat yourself Repeat yourself. Repeat yourself. Repeat yourself. Repeat yourself…
  • FACT: According to research, when someone is talking about feelings or attitudes, about 93% of their message comes from nonverbal cues.

You Will Need

  • Brevity
  • A glass of water
  • An image
  • Gestures
  • An emotional stance
  • A keyword

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