The First of Our Top Five - Build a Bridge…

If you’ve ever been asked to present as a subject matter expert on camera for an internal or external video, or are part of the team recruiting those experts, you know it’s no easy feat for anyone involved. Over the course of the next five Fridays we’ll do our best to break down our favorite and most effective tips we use to coach our on-camera experts. We’ve turned them into easy-to-digest, practical exercises for you to share. With just a bit of practice these tips and tricks can make you and your colleagues look, sound, and feel like pros on camera. As a bonus, they’re also excellent skills to deploy when presenting to a live audience, and to keep in your hip pocket when in the throes of a negotiation.

Our list starts with something good communicators use regularly, often without even knowing it, the conversational bridge. Getting it right is a bit of an art, but once you know the formula it becomes rote.

Let’s break it down. A conversational bridge is a useful tool to allow a speaker to avoid a negative question in a live interview. However, it can also be used to avoid awkward or abrupt transitions from one topic to another. They’re particularly useful to have stored in your memory as “go to” phrases when presenting live while not using a tight script. The result is that the messages you need to convey to your audience are delivered in a far more conversational manner.

Another side effect of the use of bridges is the avoidance of “filler words.” We all have them — “right”, “OK” — or in some cases noises — “um,” “uh” — that can distract from your message and, let’s face it, can also erode your credibility. Replace these fillers with a bridge. Think of a bridge as a tight “go to” phrase that gets you from point A to point B. Here are a few examples:

  • It’s also important to remember...
  • Another thing that’s key to TOPIC (whatever you’re discussing) is…
  • Also, keep in mind that…
  • Plus…
  • Not to mention…

Ask a family member or your work wife or husband (come on, we all have them), if you have a filler word, noise, or phrase. We’re betting you do, and it might surprise you. Once you know what it is, begin practicing by swapping this phrase with a bridge. Soon, the use of bridges will become rote.

You know you’ve got it down pat when you begin to notice others using this tactic. As our country chooses its next President, now is a perfect time for you to begin to search for the good communicators out there building conversational bridges.

Stop by next week for the second of our top five tips. In the mean time, practice your bridges, and keep in mind, if you have any other specific issues that you’d like me to address all you have to do is ask. (Did you catch the bridge?) Talk to you next Friday.