Monday, July 5, 2004

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Why talking points are a good idea

Brad DeLong and Matthew Yglesias both endorse and demonstrate the practice of developing their own talking points when they do television interviews. In a follow-up post, DeLong observes that the exercise is useful -- but does not necessarily translate into a better media appearance:

The discipline of preparing talking points for TV forces us to focus and to strip our arguments down to their bare minimum, which is a very useful exercise. But when we actually get on TV, we are relatively feckless and ineffective. We treat the camera as a bizarre electro-photo-mechanical device, rather than as a human being we are talking to and in whose facial expressions and feedback we are greatly interested. Even or stripped-down arguments are still much too long--with many too many subordinate clauses and qualifications. And so (with tape) they chop us up. And (live) we get interrupted and the conversation moves on.

Much better to use the internet, gaining (a) the space for print, and (b) the power of rapid response.

I still hink Brad and Matt are onto something -- and it doesn't just apply to television. Read this outsourcing story (here's a link to part two) by Kamil Z. Skawinski in California Computer News, in which I'm quoted liberally -- too liberally. Skawinski did not misquote me, so it's not the media's fault. Reading the story, I wish I'd provided more focused answers and better message discipline -- I rambled too much and therefore did not express my views effectively. A set of talking points would have helped here -- and since this was a phone interview, I wouldn't have needed to memorize them.

Live and learn.

posted by Dan on 07.05.04 at 10:33 AM