This is what a catastrophic media interview looks like

This is what a catastrophic media interview looks like

It’s cringe-making. It’s awful. It’s mindboggling. It’s the hapless Chloe Smith, treasury minister, being grilled live on Newsnight this week by Jeremy Paxman at his most merciless.

Smith started badly, and went downhill: a cack-handed attempt to avoid a simple first question; a failure to give a convincing reason for not answering; a failure to bridge to her key message; an utter lack of an assertiveness, allowing Paxman to dominate from the off; horribly awkward body language; and a failure to prepare for the obvious, if ghastly, questions that she was bound to be asked.

After three minutes of being subjected to televisual torture, the wheels start to come off. At 3.03 we get her first cough and splutter, followed by a desperate lunge for water which (mercifully) was within reach. She then goes into interview meltdown, spouting on autopilot – because her mind is numb, it appears, with panic – fuelled by further grabs for water. Paxman, an experienced broadcaster, knows this, but pummels her for a gruelling five further minutes. “Is this some sort of joke?”, he asks at 6.18. “Do you ever think you’re incompetent?” At 7.57.

He’s right to ask the question. Yes, she is incompetent – at doing a high-pressure, high-profile live interview.

What sort of an organisation would make the mistake of putting up an incompetent to face Paxman, seemingly with no training? Only an organisation that is, itself, in serious trouble.

 

Article date

July 2nd, 2012

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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