Avoid eye contact, use soundbites, admit nothing / 4

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Instead of allowing yourself to be intimidated by an interviewer’s blazing eyes, simply stare at the space just above his or her eyebrows. However intense the grimace, you will experience no discomfort at all.

Arnold also suggests a way to intimidate the journalist. “Take a tape recorder with you and put it down out of sight of the cameras. That’s like saying, ‘You mess with me, and I’ll take this to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission.’”

In the TV studio, sitting alongside Jennings, The Interviewer says, “A few words for level please, Mike,” then while Jennings burbles flips open a folding mirror and briskly touches up his make up with a sponge.

While doing this, he nods every so often, presumably in response to instructions coming through his earpiece. He stows his kit, and the music starts up.

“Hello, and welcome back. We’re joined by Mike Jennings… “

Again, Jennings starts well with his core statement, but he sounds slightly robotic. The Interviewer, not a bit interested, changes the subject to snarl reproachfully about ongoing problems at Marks & Spencer. Jennings is thrown, but manages to plug Howard Schultz before the music cuts him off.

Back with the others, I watch Mulgrew on the monitors.

Briefly, the sound fails. But Arnold says: “Look at this man – excellent posture! He’s a natural. Isn’t he the kind of chap you could take home to your mother? You believe him, even without hearing a word.”

Holdstock, by contrast, seems overly defensive. When The Interviewer mentions one of Robert Maxwell’s crimes, Holdstock says, “Maxwell has not been tried for this… “ to which The Interviewer replies, “So, you don’t think Maxwell was a crook?”

From the gallery comes raucous laughter, and when Holdstock rejoins his colleagues Dickinson tells him Bennett has promoted Mulgrew to managing director in his absence.

Admit nothing

The last exercise concerns crisis management – a much trickier discipline than appearing as a retail expert.

Unless handled correctly, crisis management can make a bad situation worse. There are three rules.

  1. Express concern.
  2. Promise action.
  3. Avoid any expression of liability.

To show how this works, Arnold gives a demonstration.