We’ve all sat on the edge of our seat watching them – those uncomfortable interviews where the subject is caught floundering for an answer, is being pushed to say too much or to speculate outside their area of expertise. Enough to make you squirm even as a viewer, they’re even more disconcerting for the talent facing a reporter.

But, whether it’s during damage control, as part of a debate or just handling a tenacious journalist there are a host of ways to effectively deflect, get back on topic and handle tetchy interviews with ease.

It all comes down to the bridging statement, and here’s how to pull it off with panache.

The bridging statement

Bridging statements are all about taking or regaining control of an interview. Their role is to refocus the reporter (and their audience) on your message, keeping it clear, concise, and memorable.
While regularly used in fiery interviews such as when politicians are being taken to task, the role of bridging statement extends far beyond damage control and pork barrelling.
Done well, they will keep an interview “on message” in a calm manner that sees your desired information come across even after an editing process.

The main aim

The aim of the bridging statement is to keep focus on your most important message, and that means having it at the forefront of your mind before and throughout the interview.
As the talent being interviewed, you should be acutely aware of exactly the information you wish to impart, have the facts and figures that back it up at hand, and have a number of ways to say it up your sleeve.
You should also know your limitations and not be tempted to overstep the mark, using the bridging statement to indicate that’s not an area where you can comment, before bringing the interviewer back to your topic of discussion.

The key to delivery

While the bridging statement may be used to handle tricky interviews or contentious issues, the key is to deliver it consistently in a calm, approachable and unflappable manner.
The following are great examples of bridging statements that can be applied to almost any interview situation.

  1. “We find the more important issue is…”
  2. “I think it would be more accurate (or correct) to say…”
  3. “Here’s the real problem…”
  4. “What I’ve said comes down to this…”
  5. “Let me emphasize again…”
  6. “What matters most in this situation is…”
  7. “While ___________ is important, it’s also important to remember that…”
  8. “It all boils down to this…”
  9. “And that reminds me…”
  10. “Before we leave this subject, I need to add…”
  11. “I won’t speculate. What matters in this situation is…”
  12. “And what’s most important to know is…”
  13. “However, what is more important to look at is…”
  14. “However, the real issue here is…”
  15. “And what this all means is…”
  16. “And what’s most important to remember is…”
  17. “With this in mind, if we look at the bigger picture…”
  18. “With this in mind, if we take a look back…”
  19. “If we take a broader perspective…”
  20. “If we look at the big picture…”
  21. “Let me put all this in perspective by saying…”
  22. “What all this information tells me is…”
  23. “Before we continue, let me take a step back and repeat that…”
  24. “Before we continue, let me emphasize that…”
  25. “This is an important point because…”
  26. “What this all boils down to…”
  27. “The heart of the matter is…”
  28. “What matters most in this situation is…”
  29. “And as I said before…”
  30. “And if we take a closer look, we would see…”
  31. “Let me just add to this that…”
  32. “I think it would be more correct to say…”
  33. “Let me point out again that…”
  34. “Let me emphasize again…”
  35. “In this context, it is essential that I note…”
  36. “Another thing to remember is…”
  37. “Before we leave the subject, let me add that…”
  38. “And that reminds me…”
  39. “And the one thing that is important to remember is…”
  40. “What I’ve said comes down to this:…”
  41. “Here’s the real issue…”
  42. “While…is important, it is also important to remember…”
  43. “It’s true that…but it is also true that…”
  44. “The key here is…”
  45. “I see that, but … (key message)”
  46. “I’m not here to comment on that. What I would like to say is…”
  47. “I’d also like to add that…”
  48. “Just to put this into some context …”
  49. “What’s absolutely critical to remember is…”
  50. “People have said that but…”
  51. “I can’t agree with you”
  52. “To put this in perspective …”
  53. “What you’re talking about isn’t my area of expertise, what I can say is…”
  54. “That’s very interesting, but first let me make the point…”
  55. “That’s very interesting, but what I believe is…”
  56. “The point is…”
  57. “What I’m most concerned about is…”
  58. “What we have to look at is…”
  59. “You wouldn’t expect me to discuss such sensitive issues with the media before talking to staff …”
  60. “I cannot speak for xxx, you should address issues to them specifically. What I can say is …
  61. “Have you visited the site/seen the building/tested the equipment you are criticizing – I’d be delighted to show you…”
  62. “I’m sorry, I don’t have the precise details. I will come back to you on that.”
  63. “May I finish the point I was making…”
  64. “I’m sorry, I don’t know. However, what I can say is…”