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How to Speak in Sound Bites during a Speech

Learn how to speak in sound bites from media coach TJ Walker in this Howcast public speaking video.


How can you speak in sound bites?

First of all, what is a sound bite? A sound bite is when you're being interviewed by a TV reporter, any news reporter, who's going to edit your comments from an interview and put just part of it on TV, radio, video, or a segment of it in text. So, if a reporter talks to you for ten minutes you might have a thousand words come out of your mouth, but only eight words get on the TV newscast tonight or that video webcast.

Why were 992 words thown away and 8 words kept? The reporter took the bite out of your sound that was most interesting. What's a reporter trying to do when they quote you? They're looking for a way to make the story more interesting, more understandable, and they're looking for perspective that can't just be put in by the reporter.

Typically reporters, when they're quoting you, will only quote you if one of ten different speech patterns come out of your mouth. These are speech patterns that repeat themselves again and again and again. Doesn't matter what medium, high brow, low brow, TV, radio. Doesn't matter what language. This is a universal truth.

These sound bite elements are analogies, bold action words, cliches, humor, pop culture references, rhetorical questions, absolutes, specific examples. Quotes and sound bites come from these categories. So, once you know what the categories are that the reporters are looking for you have to look at the message points that you prepare, and then you have to package them with these sound bite elements. If you do this and do this consistently you will know before the interview even starts what quote, what sound bite will get into the final story.

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