Amira Roberts

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The Subtle Art of Repetition

There are some things in life that annoy the hell out of us: a dripping tap; SBS TV adds incessantly flogging insurance for "motoring enthusiasts; and politician’s repeating things three times within 20 seconds when interviewed.

Blame the media trainers

Most media trainers encourage their trainees to repeat their key messages in every media interview. Because in so doing you have a higher chance of your key message being broadcast or published, especially if the interview is a pre-record. And people do remember things if they are repeated – up to a point.

Think about it. If you say the same thing three times in a two minute pre-recorded media interview, then when you are edited for that news grab, the likelihood of the media outlet using your key message is increased. Do the maths.

Plus if you repeat your key messages you are less likely to say something you might regret later. You are on safe territory. You are in the groove articulating your previously agreed and approved key messages.

And if a journalist or reporter keeps getting the same points back from you – they invariably (not always) tend to end the interview because they aren’t going to get anything more from you.

So the technique of message repetition in media interview has merit.

However, whilst it can be argued repeating your key messages is important to make sure we all get it, it should not at the expense of driving us, the listener or viewer, to total distraction. There is an art to the repetition thing.

Repetition in media interviews

So next time you are interviewed by the media, be acutely aware of not overly repeating your points.

And if you have to repeat, mix them up a bit – say the same thing in slightly different ways so that you have some variance in your points, whilst essentially saying the same things.  Musicians do this all the time. The chorus of a song might be played four or five times during a three minute recording. But each time the chorus is played they change the emphasis on certain notes to give the listener variation. Because musicians know variety is the spice of life, even if we know what’s coming next.

A good media interviewee is aware of their listener, reader or viewer. They are constantly thinking about how can I best communicate with them – not how can I ram these key messages down their throats.

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