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How to Politely Decline a Reporter Question on Live TV

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Editorial Staff
How to Politely Decline a Reporter Question on Live TV

Don’t put your foot in your mouth, especially when it’s being broadcast live to the whole world. But what if you’re an expert being interviewed by a journalist, and they ask you about something you have no knowledge of? Answering incorrectly could mean looking foolish or losing all credibility with your audience. You don’t want that! You want to politely decline the question without being rude. This guide on how to politely decline a reporter's question on live TV will teach you everything you need to know about handling yourself in this situation with confidence and grace.

1) Rehearse

With live television, you don’t get many takes. A good rule of thumb is to rehearse your answers until you feel confident in your ability to answer quickly and without rambling. Look at all possible questions that could be asked. This way, when it’s time for your interview, you’ll be able to respond immediately instead of taking valuable time thinking about what question was just asked. If there are any questions you feel uncomfortable answering or addressing directly, practice how you would deflect those by saying something like “You know that’s outside my scope of practice,” or “That’s outside my purview, but I can tell you about…” 

2) Don't Get Stuck

If you’re asked a question you don’t know how to answer, admit it! You will sound more like an expert if you can say something like “I don’t know the exact answer to that but I would be happy to look into it for you.”  Live television can be an intimidating experience, especially when you're getting peppered with questions. However, you don't have to answer questions that make you uncomfortable or that stray from your expertise. You can decline politely by providing an alternative source for information. For example, if they ask about something outside of your area of expertise, say something like: “That's not my area of focus in terms of research; however there are some great resources online that address it.”

3) Have Options

If you do not wish to answer a question, you don’t have to. And if you do decide that it is something you want or need to talk about, do so in your own time and space. We all get pulled into uncomfortable situations and we can’t control what people say. Have options: Have an exit strategy. Have an answer ready: Having an answer ready—whether it’s No comment, Not right now, or Let me check my schedule—will allow you to be prepared when someone approaches with microphone in hand.

Here is to growing your name and brand for years to come.

- Your friends at Rolli

www.rolliapp.com


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