Between Bernie memes and a 24/7 news cycle, it can feel like the world is spinning. One person who isn’t spinning is Dr. Anthony Fauci. As I went to bed last night, Dr. Fauci was on the late-night news being interviewed about arguably the most important topic in America – ending the pandemic. When I was on the elliptical this morning in the basement, there he was on the morning news again adeptly answering questions. Does the guy sleep?
While I don’t know how much sleep a physician-scientist-immunologist requires, I do know he is an effective communicator. Let me emphasize – a communicator. Too often, working with the media is seen as spinning a story. I assert that these interactions are more about effectively sharing your expertise on a given topic. Dr. Fauci is doing exactly that, and I appreciate his use of skills that I coach clients on daily.
Let’s take a moment to highlight several techniques that help Dr. Fauci make the complex pandemic story something understandable.
- Don’t guess if you don’t know the answer. I preach this concept to my clients as speculation is dangerous to your credibility. There is no shame is saying you don’t have an answer especially to a complex question. Referring to other experts or promising to follow up is a stronger strategy.
- Be firm and fair. Reporters are paid to be assertive, and I appreciate how Dr. Fauci did not get flustered at the rapid-fire of questioning. Phrases like “Let me explain…” kept interviews in positive space as he shared information.
- Corrections matter. If something is incorrect and you let it stand, it goes down as truth. Several times he said “No, that isn’t the case” to ensure clear communication.
- Flag what is important. Phrases like “the most important thing” helps the reporter and the viewer focus.
- Cut to the Chase. Long-winded answers get lost in the shuffle. A phrase like “Let the Science Speak” comes through loud and clear.
You don’t have to be on air to practice these effective communication skills. These skills can help you on a Zoom call, in a classroom or at the dinner table. You are not spinning, you are sharing. Three cheers for Dr. Fauci!!