How to use bridging phrases like a pro

During an interview, it can be easy to get derailed from the key messages you want to leave with an audience. So, how do you stick to your key messages if an interviewer asks you a question you weren’t anticipating? The answer: bridging phrases.

Bridging phrases are transitional phrases that help you get from a reporter’s question to your main messages. Bridging is a learned skill, but we all do it to some degree as we transition topics during everyday conversations. Are there any bridging phrases you use consistently (think: “yes, and”)?

Becoming a bridging expert allows you to take back control during an interview, and ensure that you reinforce your key messages and expertise. For example, if you are a researcher giving an interview about a recent study, and a reporter asks you a question about unrelated research, you could say, “we didn’t study that, but what we did study is…”

Here are a few examples of commonly used bridging phrases:

“The most important thing to remember is…”
“Let me tell you what we’ve been hearing from constituents/patients/research subjects…”
“Keep in mind that…”
“That said…”
“But even more importantly…”
“The thing we are focusing on most is…”
“What we see as an even bigger issue is…”

The next time you’re watching a media interview, take note of the bridging phrases you hear. Below is a great example from Dr. Anthony Fauci on Face the Nation in 2014 speaking about Ebola cases found in the U.S.:
Bob Schieffer, Host, Face The Nation: “Well, [Republican Senator Rand Paul] even goes so far as to say he’s worried about sending 3,000 Army troops over there. He says, ‘Can you imagine how easy it is for this disease to spread on a ship,’ that they might come back and they might, you know, spread it among themselves and to the rest of the country.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci: [Answer] “I’m sorry, but that’s really not a concern. [Bridge] First of all, [Message] the troops that are going over there are going to be fundamentally for logistic purposes: command, control, engineering, setting up the hospitals. They’re well trained, they will not be in direct risk of, in this case, in the sense of contact with individuals. And even if they are, the protocols are in place to prevent spread from there. [Reinforce] So I don’t, and the Army does not, have any real concern that those three to four thousand troops are going to be in danger.”

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