Is “well done” really better than “well said”?

19 April 2021  |  Insights
Share Is “well done” really better than “well said”?
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“Well done is better than well said”, said Benjamin Franklin.

The meaning of this quote from a man who really knew what he was talking about is fairly obvious, but I would dare to offer a slightly different take on it. Because in my experience in a media interview your words, well said, do matter and the tone you use to convey them does too.

Authenticity, relevancy, passion and truth are what turn a good interview into a great interview. But what really helps you deliver, is understanding what the format of the interview is, the cultural climate at the time and who the audience is.

That way you know how to pitch your stories, share information and importantly what tone to take while doing this. I love the TV series The West Wing and while watching an old episode recently the Press Secretary CJ talks to President Bartlett about the importance of cadence. Cadence, a modulation or inflection of the voice, the rise and fall of the spoken word.

When sharing stories, sometimes from faraway places, with complex facts and stats, or a significant or shocking situation, getting the tone and rise and fall of your voice, even body language right is key. You can engage an audience in a way that means you take them on a journey, draw them in, compel them to listen, emote and respond.

Recently we’ve seen how the use of tone is important in the coverage about Prince Philip. Not everyone would care about his death or life, but the media who struck the right note when covering this news, were those who understood what made his story compelling and understood the mood of the nation.

They interviewed people who benefitted from the charities the Prince was involved in. Such as a young man who took part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award while in prison. Working in the prison kitchen, as part of the skills section of the award, he realised an undiscovered passion and was able to work towards an NVQ in cooking. He now runs his own business as a private chef and with genuine emotion, shared that this one decision changed his life forever.

It was reflected in the interviews that spoke about Philip as an abandoned child overcoming great odds, a flawed but loving father, a committed husband behind the powerful wife, a man frustrated in those early years by the restrictions of his life. In those who spoke of his humour, sometimes inappropriate, the fallible man getting it wrong, but someone who at his best dedicated his life to serving others. One BBC interviewer was almost in tears as she announced his death.

I’m not a royalist, but the coverage that drew me in, was of real stories, real people and the real man behind the pomp and ceremony of the life of a Prince. The tone was pitched to match the emotion of his death, the highs and lows of his life, engage the widest possible audience and reflect their mood. It was both well done and well said. Done together and done correctly, the right tone and the power of truth will help you deliver a great media interview, every time.

Andi Russell, Director and Co-Founder

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