Theresa May’s interview on Sky: only a slight improvement

Theresa May’s interview on Sky: only a slight improvement

Theresa May doesn’t appear as much on our screens as her predecessor did – a strategy that is bound to give her TV interviews an air of eye-catching freshness. However, she undermines this by being so awkward and evasive.

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After her interview in September with the BBC’s Andrew Marr, I identified three main areas that she had to work on. Judging by her 20-minute interview with Sky’s Sophie Ridge yesterday, she’s improved only slightly:

  1. Articulating her own story. This is still conspicuously absent.
  2. Talking in pictures, not concepts. We had to wait for thirteen minutes until May gave a picture, when she compared people’s response to a physical injury (such as a broken leg) to their response to a mental illness. But that was pretty much it in an otherwise rather distant and dry performance. Why do pictures matter so much? Because they not only make the message so much more memorable and impactful, but give the messenger herself so much more warmth and enthusiasm.
  3. Answering questions directly. The best moment of the entire interview came at 18 minutes, when Ridge asked May what she thought of Donald Trump’s infamous comments about women (“When you’re famous they let you do anything …” etc etc). May was completely clear, without ifs or buts: “I think that’s unacceptable”, she said. It was an impressively direct answer. But throughout the rest of her interview, she was disappointingly evasive, resorting to meaningless clichés such as “We’re leaving the EU but we’re not leaving Europe”. (How would the UK “leave Europe”? one is tempted to ask.) At one point, an exasperated Ridge, faced with yet another unnecessary evasion, this time on the question of whether Britain would help defend Estonia against aggression, spluttered out: “So that’s a ‘yes’”.

As I’ve written before, Theresa May is no natural when it comes to media interviews. With Labour in crisis, UKIP unsure of itself and the LibDems just starting the long road to recovery, she can get away with it … for the moment. But that state of affairs won’t last forever. May needs more improvement now, so she’s ready when, as it inevitably will, the going gets tough.

Article date

January 9th, 2017

Robert Taylor

Media Trainer

@RT_MediaTrainer

My main passion is media training, and I’m proud to be one of the UK’s most experienced and successful trainers in this field.

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