Typically, you get little if any warning just how quickly they need you to respond before you’re gone and they’re off to something else. So, you need to go into these situations armed with messages you can get in quickly and concisely, even on some of the most complex topics.
For instance, healthcare reform. Now there’s an issue that lends itself to snappy, short sound bites! Well, Southern Co. CEO David Ratcliffe was asked to do just that recently on Fox Business Network.
Telling Ratcliffe they had only 30 seconds left, anchor Alexis Glick asked how healthcare reform will impact his company. Hard to know, the CEO responded, too complex an issue, just like climate change.
By tying in climate change, Ratcliffe slightly repositioned the issue. He targeted specific audiences possibly watching this interview. Perhaps some Congressional leaders and critical committee staffers heard him saying that right now there’s a lot of confusion about both healthcare and climate change legislation. He wants more clarity, and also wants them to understand the economic impact of their actions on Southern Co. and its customers. It was a message that other CEOs for many companies in various industries certainly must’ve appreciated.
By the way, Ratcliffe said it all in about 32 seconds. Not bad, considering he had no clock to go by and probably no indication he would get a question on such a complex topic with an unrealistic window of time limit. (See for yourself; click on video below.)