The Trouble With Tears in a Media Interview
TIFFANY BERG COUGHRAN
We’ve all become emotional when sharing a traumatic experience. We become weepy, our breathing changes, and before we realize it, we are inadvertently blowing snot bubbles as our shoulders give way to deep heaving. In that moment, our story becomes trapped; seeming to fight its way out of our body in blurts and broken sentences.
High emotion and tears may be warranted given tragedy, loss and grief. They reflect great depth and can move a viewing audience to action. However, tears, when displayed in the extreme, may have the exact opposite effect.
Firstly, tears interrupt the flow of the important content you are sharing. With each sob, sentences are abbreviated, facts are omitted or brushed over, and significant details may be garbled, making interview footage unclear or unusable save short snippets.
Secondly, it is difficult to maintain eye contact while crying. Focusing on a camera while sobbing, wiping one’s tears with tissue, or looking down to avoid personal vulnerability, make the process of crying while being interviewed a challenging combination.
Lastly, crying creates a distraction from the topic at hand. In extreme cases, an emotional breakdown on camera may become its own headline. If an individual is overly dramatic or theatrical, even if unintentionally, it may prove to be damaging.
When being interviewed, find a balance between sincere emotion and sobbing. Displayed sparingly, tears can compel empathy from a viewing audience and give depth to effective, concise responses to the media’s quest for perspective.
Tiffany Berg Coughran is a PR and marketing professional, author, grief counselor and “charity addict” who has mentored many speakers, authors and celebrities on media protocols. She provides PR and crisis management with Cavalry PR.
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