How Do You Tell The Truth, But Make It Your Truth?

I'll be honest, I've tried to avoid looking at interviews that deal with Brexit - but it's almost impossible now.

As always, I feel that I must preface this by saying that this article isn't meant to represent my own, or the company's, political views - it's just analysing someone being interviewed...

Anyway, watch the video (it's pretty short) and then read what I say about it below.

The first thing that I noticed is that Nick Robinson started off by asking a question that wanted to know how the Prime Minister felt - but she didn't answer that.

More and more this technique is becoming known as a Politicians Answer - don't answer the question you're being asked, go straight through to getting out your Key Message.

From my point of view - and other media trainers may well disagree - I'm not sure that I like this approach. She was under no time constraints and I'm almost convinced that the answer wasn't edited - so why didn't she answer it?

It comes down to being afraid of the unknown - and making quite a few assumptions about the interviewer. Let's break that down a little more...

Theresa May, and her team, are afraid of her being made a fool of. That's a good fear to have - the jokes about her running through a field of wheat as a child are still being told months after her talking about it on Newsnight - but it has also stymied any chance of showing a real human side, certainly in a political interview like this one.

So - any questions with words like 'feelings' or 'emotions' in it, referring to the Prime Minister, are to be avoided. That's a shame. Nothing endears you to an audience more than when they realise that you are just like them - a person with fears, dreams and emotions. 

Of course, there is also an argument that we don't want that from a leader - we want someone to lead. If that's the case, why ask the question in the first place? It's because we've become increasingly interested in what people feel or think, personally, about something that they are experiencing.

The assumptions about the interviewer - the very experienced Nick Robinson - are that he would have other questions based on the possible answers she could give to that question - and now you're down a rabbit hole that could lead anywhere. Nick is used to getting interviewees to give the answers that they might not want to give - and it's that thought that scares media teams too. I know that if a client of mine was being interviewed by him, I'd have them briefed up to their eyeballs before the first question was asked!

Aside from that first answer dodge - Theresa May does pretty well here. She maintains eye contact and answers (most of) the questions well. She stumbles a couple of times but, seeing as she does this quite a bit, I'm inclined to think that this is more her own speech pattern, rather than any genuine show of nerves.

One final point to make about this excerpt - is when she admits that there will be disruption. This is another nice media technique. However, like anything, if you use it too much - it starts to show, and then it becomes useless.

Theresa May says 'short-term' disruption. Now, this isn't a term that many other commentators are making, and this brings me to the title of this article.

What the Prime Minister has done is acknowledge what a lot of her opponents are saying  - that there is going to be disruption with a 'no deal' Brexit - but added in her own truth, by calling it 'short-term' disruption. The idea behind this is to concede one point - but to also refute it at the same time. To be fair, that's quite a Politician's Answer too.

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