It is better to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and resolve all doubt. ~Abraham Lincoln
The easiest way to save face is to keep the lower half shut. ~Author Unknown
Say, Say, Say….nothing. Two hypothetical situations:
Scenario #1 – You are a high profile elected official who has just been caught being unfaithful to his family, disappeared on Father’s Day weekend, become a front page story for 5 days, and rambled on endlessly at a press conference about all of it, with little structure and what seemed like very little preparation. It is safe to say you are not having a great week.
The best way to follow it up?
Disappear from the limelight, be quiet, spend time with your family, maybe even go hike in the solitude of the Appalachian Mountains to clear your head (kidding)…
The absolute worst way?
Give another no holds barred rambling very public interview where you take the opportunity to make sure you are once again front page news and to embarrass your family to an almost unbelievable (and sickening) degree.
Scenario # 2 – You are the father of one of a world famous celebrity who passes away unexpectedly and in dramatic fashion. The world is in a state of shock, and this news wipes every other news story from the front page (even Scenario #1!). Your now-deceased child has spoken out in the past about emotional abuse he endured that has been attributed to you. The world is mourning.
The wrong things to say?
Advertise your own product or record label. Say you are sad and mourning while smiling and smug. Show both verbally and non verbally that you are enjoying yourself in front of the camera during a very traumatic time. Make the centerpiece of your comments about said record label…
One killer communications app that doesn’t yet exist for the iPhone, and has not been turned into a Staples product (yet):
A “Time to Stop Speaking” button (or app).
All kidding aside, often the best thing to say is…..nothing. Nada. Keep quiet.
Often speakers disclose too much information, at inappropriate times, completely draining the meaning from the message.
Even worse, TMI (too much information) may distort the message and convey a message or theme the speaker really doesn’t want to convey. It happens in boardrooms and conference halls every day.
It doesn’t have to be a dramatic and/or high profile event like those mentioned above. Lack of preparation, both in preparing to speak and in preparing a message, can do irreversible damage to a product, brand or messenger.
When in doubt, less is more – every time.