Picture a delicious chocolate chip cookie coming right out of the oven…and you take that first, mouth-watering bite. Memorable isn’t it? (Tasty too.)
A sound bite is much like that first delectable bite into your chocolate chip cookie! The term itself refers to a pithy phrase or sentence that lends itself to being memorable and repeated. That’s exactly why it’s so popular with media (whether we’re talking print, radio, TV or Internet).
Many of us have experienced being approached by a reporter or anchor person for an interview that may have lasted several minutes or longer and then realizing only a very brief excerpt was actually used. The reason for this is that as we know, people have short attention spans so the media are always listening for sound bites that their readers or listeners will grab and remember. Think of slogans like “America runs on Dunkin” or the words of President Bill Clinton “Being President is like running a cemetery; you’ve got a lot of people under you and nobody’s listening.” These words stay with you and that’s exactly what sound bites are designed to do.
No need to panic—the goal here is not to convert all your messages into sound bites. However, developing the skill of crafting sound bites may serve you well not only when being interviewed but in meetings and presentations. Some guidelines to consider are:
1. Be on the alert for sound bites that surround you on TV, radio, articles, etc. and jot them down. This will heighten your awareness.
2. Where appropriate, make use of an analogy, metaphor or simile (see example above referencing President Clinton).
3. Be bold. Think about phrases like “We’re in it to win it.” This is a clear action statement that gets people’s attention.
4. Repetition is your friend. It was Warren Buffet who said “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”
5. Self-edit to ensure brevity. See if you can keep your sound bite short and sweet.
6. Paint a picture. Use vivid and colorful language to create a memorable image.
Now that you’ve read this post, go do your homework and then…have a cookie.