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Will you let me finish, krishnan guru murthy, gulnur aybet, channel 4 news, media training

Will you let me finish?

Q:  What is the point of being interviewed on radio or TV?

A:  To bring people on to your side of the argument.

So, if you’re taking on this task on behalf of your company (or yourself):

Avoid picking a fight with the journalist.

It’s what we tell people every week in our media training courses.

A senior advisor to Turkey’s president had the chance to bring us onside this week.

But she was so intent on fighting with the Channel 4 News anchor that I missed some of the strong points she was making.

How do you avoid this?

Read on.

Five crucial mistakes

Will you let me finish, media training, gulnur aybet, channel 4

The situation on Turkey’s borders in complex.

President Trump has changed his position on it.

So has the United Nations.

So to explain it, you have to build a clear argument.

Gulnur Aybet, senior advisor to President Erdogan, made some excellent points on Turkey’s policy.

But they were lost in a sea of vitriol as she battled with Krishnan Guru-Murthy.

Here’s five mistakes she made.

And how to avoid them.

You can also watch the full interview here.

1) Overly-long answers

media training, gulnur aybet, channel 4 news

Interviewees have an agenda.

So do interviewers.

So it has to be an interchange.

With the right balance of informative answers that avoid going on too long.

Mr Guru-Murthy’s only way of shortening the lengthy answers was to interrupt.

It was two minutes and 15 seconds before Ms Aybet drew breath to allow a question.

Instead, limit answers in a short interview to 20-30 seconds each.

2) Criticising interruptions

media training, criticising questions, krishnan guru murthy, channel 4 news

Ms Aybet twice reminded the reporter about interruptions.

The first:

“You’ve asked me a question, you have to let me answer.”

It sounded angry.

The second:

“If you’d let me finish…”


So how should you handle interruptions in radio and TV interviews?

The same way footballers and rugby players handle interruptions to their play.

Tough out the challenge, and keep on going.

In interview terms, just raise your voice enough to be heard.

And finish the point.

The interviewers will back down after several seconds.

Or face both of you being drowned out.

3) Interrupting questions

media training, stop interrupting, gulnur aybet, channel 4 news

President Erdogan’s advisor was angry.

She described a point made by the Channel 4 News presenter as “a lie”.

So she started interrupting his question.

Attempting to shout him down.

Instead, wait until the end of the questions.

Then rebut the point strongly by saying:

“Absolutely not.”

Much more powerful than an interruption.

4) Now look…

media training, now look, gulnur aybet, channel 4 news

You’ll hear Australians and New Zealanders starting answers that way.

And it’s only a turn of phrase.

But Ms Aybet began one answer:

“Now look…”

And again, it sounded angry.

As if she was exasperated with the journalist.

She may well have been.

But she let it show.

5) Stop criticising the questions

media training, stop criticising the questions, krishnan guru murthy, channel 4

Ms Aybet interjected:

“Shame on you.”

Once again taking offence with the question.

But the question is for the reporter to ask.

The answer is all you can be responsible for.

The purpose of media training

Working with the media, media training, Same for business, Pink Elephant Communications

In the media training courses we’ve run for 30 years.

At our studio in Glasgow, in Edinburgh and throughout the UK.

As well as in 25 countries across the world.

We’ve asked participants to:

  • Ride the interruptions
  • Avoid criticising the reporter’s questions
  • Stay silent during questions
  • Stay patient and use language that reflects that patience
  • Avoid judging the questions

Helping companies announce plant closures.

Or explain why people have been injured.

Or fighting a client’s corner on an issue.

Take a combination of the right points and blend them with the right techniques.

Lost in that feisty Channel 4 interview were good points.

Turkey has cleared 2,000 square kilometres of ISIS fighters.

Some 7,000 suspected terrorists have been deported from Turkey.

But by the time we heard all that, the argument was lost.

Because of a bad attitude.

Some interviewees regard the media as the enemy.

But the enemy is misinterpretation.



If you want the audience to agree with your points, keep them onside with the right attitude.


Bill McFarlan is co-Founder and Executive Chairman at Pink Elephant Communications in Glasgow.

You can read his full profile here.


Images in Will you let me finish? courtesy of Channel 4 News.
Will you let me finish? edited by Colin Stone.

15th October 2019 Featured in: Media training blogs By:

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