June 20, 2007 by Colin
From The Friendly Ghost, a lesson that a truly prepared guest can counter an aggressive interviewer. An interview between Radio 4 presenter John Humphrys and Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the British Ambassador to Afghanistan, sputtered for a moment when the diplomat supported his arguments with fresh reporting from the BBC’s own website:
“…A short way into the piece, with Humphrys trying his best to put him off his stride, my ears pricked up because Cowper-Coles suddenly said “You only to have to see your own website this morning where quoted on it is an Afghan villager on a superb feature on the BBC website saying the Taliban is the biggest threat to the future of Afghanistan.”
“That’s brilliant,” I thought. “He’s saying ‘this is what you’re broadcasting on your own site – and I’ve been prepared enough to read it. I’m using your own techniques against you.’”
Cowper-Coles arrived for the interview with facts and personal anecdotes to support his position. This sort of preparation should be second nature for any communications specialist and spokesperson – and will help prepare them for any tense or confrontational moments during an interview.
The audio is on the BBC site – and his quote is right up front.