Making a monkey of Lalit Bhanot
What went wrong? It’s pretty clear. Despite taking what seemed like the longest pause ever, to mull over a clever retort to a rather straight forward question on possible racism during a CWG event; Lalit Bhanot completely misunderstood the question and went of onto a ridiculous tangent. The journalist had asked if there was cause for concern after a South African swimmer, at one of the events, referred to the crowd as ‘a bunch of monkeys’. Despite seemingly confirming his answer with a fellow panellist, Bhanot started talking about what a menace monkeys were in general, when organising an event.
Note to self: Pay attention to the question! Don’t just hone in on a few words and assume you know what the journalist’s question is. Also, there is no shame in asking the journalist to repeat himself or perhaps even have the question translated into a language you are more comfortable with.
Miss California’s stern anti-gay marriage answer leads to some awkward follow up questions
What went wrong? Well, let’s just say that between 2008 and 2010, there was no social issue more discussed or debated than same-sex marriage. With thousands across the world, fighting for their ‘one’ basic right, the taboo topic was one to have been tackled a bit more carefully, and not just with an ‘honest’ opinion. What made matters worse – the judge who asked the question was not only a proud homosexual himself, but one of the most powerful celebrity bloggers of the time.
Note to self: Sometimes it’s best to blend in, rather than just be tactless and stand out for the sake of it. When faced with a question, the answer to which borders on controversy, its best to tread a diplomatic path. The answer might not be as attention grabbing as you’d hoped for, but it keeps you out of trouble. In this particular case, when pleasing a crowd or a homosexual judge is of utmost importance, perhaps a cliche like “I believe in the right to choose one’s own happiness” would have served better than forcing one’s own personal opinion, simply to be different and make a bold statement. As in most similar cases, Ms. California’s answer was met with negativity and outrage.
A nervous news reporter speaks in tongues
What went wrong? It’s one thing to mispronounce a word whilst on live television. It’s another to continue rambling through your entire sentence, hoping no one would notice.
Note to self: When facing a live camera or battling a barrage of questions from members of the press, it’s only natural to sometimes get a little tongue tied. Being nervous is a natural reaction when you’re put on the spot, or are presented with an unexpected question to which you do not have a rehearsed answer. No matter how savvy a spokesperson you are, when begin to stutter – pause for a minute. Gather your thoughts, take a deep breath and start again. The press will not penalise you for speaking slowly or making one small mistake, as long as what you are saying is clear and makes sense. Simply rambling on, hoping to ‘get it over with’ is never a good idea. While it’s always best to do your homework before you speak, in the off chance you aren’t given anytime, take a few moments to frame your answer before you address the journalist’s question.
LOL – Laugh out Lalu
What went wrong? Nothing really, but this video represents one very important and desirable quality, every spokesperson should posses – a humourous side or the ability to laugh at oneself and lighten the moment.
Note to self: Media interactions like a parliament session, discussing the financial budget or talking about airline tariffs can often become a little tiring, as technical questions with equally specific answers are thrown back and forth. A little humour now and then, goes a long way. American president – Barack Obama, one of the world’s greatest orators is often seen joking with journalists during a press conference. The idea behind the humour is to make the spokesperson seem less hardcore, more human and makes more interesting reportage. In 2008, when Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary, was asked to explain (for the 4th time) to a journalist, his different policy outlooks for business and economy class travel; instead of a normal brochure response, his cheeky response was one that earned more chatter across the web than when Lalu Prasad suddenly burst into his best English during that fateful parliament session. “The difference is economy will have no frills, straight-up cost effective travel. Business will have the opposite, beds and bl*wj*bs. Everything you want”.
Don’t cut the hands that feed you less votes, Varun Gandhi
What went wrong? As a spokesperson, you can’t afford to ‘say things in the moment.’ It’s also pertinent to point out here that negative publicity is a slippery slope.
Note to self: In the heat of things – during an impassioned speech, one often says things they regret. Varun Gandhi’s violent avowal evoked an outcry from thousands, who saw it as blatant attack on non-Hindu communities. Whether a shrewd yet short-paying publicity stunt or a genuine retrospective gaffe, the young Gandhi scion’s motivational rally might have benefitted more without the negative press. As emotional as a speech gets, there is a fine line between making things personal and adding a personalised touch. Recount your experiences and relate them to your opinions, but make sure not to take on an offensive stance. Re-reading your speech is a helpful practice, each time looking at it from different perspectives.