A Tribute to Teri: NEVER say “I think” in an Interview

Some industry colleagues can fade in one’s memory – but not Teri. I was crushed to learn of the recent passing of Teri Goudie, media trainer extraordinaire. Teri was a former TV reporter who pivoted to the other side of the camera and quickly became THE person executives of many industries called when they needed messaging and media coaching. We brought Teri in when situations were really tense, and our top executives needed her “tough love”-type of training.  She could always grasp our agricultural science and help our leaders speak to it in a way that a Reuters or Bloomberg reporter would understand – when delivered properly. I stood in awe of how Teri trained global leaders with relentless coaching: “Try again.” “Say it with conviction.” “NEVER say ‘I think’ – that shows weakness.”

Yes, you heard that right. Teri taught us a valuable lesson about the statement “I think.” She pointed out this is a weak way of sharing important facts.  Anybody can “think” something, it is far more powerful to prove it. “The science shows us..” “Our research proves…” “Years of data paint the picture..” are just several examples of a better way to illustrate a point for a reporter and be quotable. This is especially true when complicated science has been grabbed by activists and your job is set the record straight.

The beauty of Teri’s training is that after she had zipped back to Chicago to help some other industry in crisis (e.g., pharmaceutical, airlines), her wisdom guided our work.  Other trainings faded away, but Teri’s coaching lasted. The fact is, Teri’s skill, instinct and interpersonal skills made all the difference.  (Notice how I didn’t start that sentence with “I think?)

All of us who knew Teri are grieving the too-soon loss of an amazing businesswoman who was importantly a wife, mom of 5 and a marathon runner.  Join me in banning “I think” from your media interviews in her honor.  I am forever in your debt, Teri.