I had a brain fade!
This a phrase we hear every now and when someone takes part in an awful media interview, where they either forget key points or simply cannot answer basic questions. It’s the classic “car-crash” interview. Take a look at this recent radio interview with the Green Party leader in England Natalie Bennett. She starts getting herself into trouble from about the three minute mark when she has difficulty answering Nick Ferrari’s questions.
After that interview Ms Bennett admitted it was excruciating and reportedly said “that happens, I’m human. One can have a mental brain fade on these things.” She is of course right but that particular “brain fade” became the news story and that’s the last thing she would want in the lead up to the May 7 general election.
So what should you do to avoid a brain fade or freeze or how do you deal with one if it happens?
- Prepare properly. The BEST plan of action is to avoid the brain freeze in the first place by preparing properly. If you agree to an interview on a particular topic make sure you are fully prepared to answer questions on that issue.
- Get your communications manager or a media trainer to do at least one practice interview with you. Think of some hard questions you may get asked, even if they are off topic but in the news.
- If you find yourself in the middle of an interview and a “brain freeze” sets in, try to recognise it early and take steps to calm yourself. You could ask the reporter to repeat the question again to give yourself some time to breathe properly and gather your thoughts. Getting some oxygen in your brain may make all the difference.
- Get to safe ground. If you are asked a question and you have either forgotten the answer or do not know the answer move the discussion to safe ground. Try bridging back to one or more of your key points. This may also help you calm down enough to eventually answer the question you were stumped on.
- Tell the truth 1. If you do not know the answer, admit it and say you are now going to make sure you find out. But also promise to get the information to the reporter before their deadline. If it’s a live radio or TV interview tell the reporter you will get the information to the producer before the show finishes.
- Tell the truth 2. If you are experiencing a genuine brain freeze there are some situations when it is simply best to call it. Apologise and tell the reporter you can normally recall the information they have asked you about but for some reason your memory isn’t working today.
Check out these other “brain freeze” moments collated by the Sydney Morning Herald.