The Art of Bridging

From Gail Billingsley:

How many times have you watched an interview and been impressed by how clearly the interviewee got his or her point across?  And, conversely, how many times have you been frustrated because you haven’t been able to get your point across in a conversation, presentation Q & A, or interview?

The Art of BridginigChances are that the good interviewee was skilled in the art of bridging.  Bridging is, very simply, an invitation to take any question and elegantly get your message points across. 

When being interviewed, first and foremost,  unless it is a hostile situation, always answer the question asked.  Then move, or “bridge," to the message you feel is key.  Some easy “bridging phrases” are:

  • additionally, I’d like to point out…
  • also, what you may want to consider….
  • what’s interesting here is…
  • what’s important is…
  • something you may not be aware of…
  • related to this is….
  • as you may know…

At this stage, to master the art of bridging in an interview, pitch, conversation, or presentation, it is critical to prepare in advance and have your top message points identified and articulated in a concise manner.  Then you’ll find it easy to always communicate what is important.

Let me provide an example.  When Rocket X’s consumer spaceship didn’t launch, the company president did a masterful job  at refocusing the attention back on the mission.  She didn’t use a bridging phrase, but, nevertheless, swung it quickly back to focus on her point.

Question:  Are you disappointed with this failed attempt?

Answer: “This is not a failure,” Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX, said during a National Aeronautics and Space Administration press conference after the launch attempt. “We aborted with purpose. It would be a failure if we were to have lifted off with an engine trending in this direction.  The software did what it was supposed to do.”

This was a masterful answer.  She acknowledged the launch didn’t happen, but pointed out the strength of the safety systems and expressed pride in them. 

To become proficient at bridging, write down your message points and practice bridging from a ridiculous question to the message you want to get across.  Don’t engage in arguments or defend with a hostile interviewer.  Be well-practiced in your message points and you can take any question and turn it into a positive experience.

Gail Billingsley is the Director of Marketing and Strategic Planning for Smart College Visit and works as a marketing strategy specialist with clients in Virginia and New York.

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