How to avoid the ‘call and response’ interview exchange

When you sit down with a journalist—on camera, at the microphone or for print coverage—it’s easy to lapse into rote responses. Here’s how to get a running start and let your answers soar.

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A musical “call and response,” according to Wikipedia, “is a succession of two distinct phrases usually played by different musicians, where the second phrase is heard as a direct commentary on or response to the first.”

Sometimes, a live audience offers the response. A charming example comes from Cab Calloway’s 1931 hit “Minnie the Moocher,” which becomes so comically complex as to overwhelm the audience.

The call and response form can be found in jazz and classical and folk, in churches and synagogues and secular gatherings, and everywhere from West Africa to Cuba to England.

It should not be found in your media interviews.

Let’s say you’re an advocate for raising fuel efficiency standards in the United States. You believe that auto manufacturers—particularly for light trucks—must improve their fuel efficiency standards to help reduce the risks from climate change.

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