Keep It Short – In our ADD world, shorter is better. Long, winding sentences don’t work.
Don’t Reference A Previous Comment – If you are taping soundbites, avoid “as I mentioned earlier” or other such phrases. Since not all of your quotes will be aired, the viewer probably wouldn’t have heard the first comment making your quote unusable.
Use Metaphors to Boost Understanding – One of your goals is to explain the news of the day. “Paying for water is like paying for gravity” is a perfect quote explaining why bottled water is superfluous. And, here’s one I used speaking about rumors that infidelity played a role in the Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn break up: A Tiger rarely changes his stripes.”
Speak in Complete Sentences – Producers enjoy the freedom of picking the best soundbites. If your commentary doesn’t have proper nouns, for example, it won’t hit the airwaves. For example: “He has managed to offend many people” is neither sexy nor helpful. Instead, I offered up this sentence: “Mel Gibson is an equal opportunity offender.”
Stay Within Your Wheelhouse – I am a branding expert not a political expert. When Foreign Policy magazine called, I kept all of my comments centered on the unfortunate success of ISIS branding. By the same token, I’m joining Rick Amato’s radio show tomorrow focusing on the speech patterns and branding of the presidential candidates, not the issues themselves.
Try Opposites, Alliterations, and Juxtapositions – You are looking for tricks to make your statement impactful. BTW, it’s OK to create some of your comments beforehand. In speaking about Lindsay Lohan’s painting the “F” word on her fingernails, I said on camera: “This was Lyndsay’s way of speaking volumes without saying a word.”
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To your sizzling success!
PS: You can see a reel of soundbites over here: