Lessons from Debate Prep

Last week Texas gubernatorial candidates faced off for their first (and only) televised debate.

While thousands tuned in for the hour-long discussion, the candidates and their teams have been working behind the scenes for months to craft the perfect soundbites and prepare for the unexpected.

The tradition of debate prep stretches as far back as political debates themselves, with an increased emphasis placed on them after the first televised debate between Kennedy and Nixon highlighted the importance of a vigorous showing to audiences at home.

While you may not be taking the stage any time soon, consider deploying these debate prep strategies as you head into your next interview:

Go for the Headline
When it comes to debating, the goal is always to come out on top. But in order to win, you need to have a strategy. The starting point for any debate strategy is figuring out your ideal headline the day after the debate. The same is true for any media interview. Consider the headline you want to run and craft your key points to tell that story.

Know your Opponent
In debate prep, opposition research can be essential. The same is true in an interview. Spending time getting to know the reporter, the types of questions they ask and the angles they take can ensure you’re prepared for whatever they throw your way.

Practice Makes Perfect
When it comes to debating, even the most seasoned politicians realize the importance of having a good prep team. Practicing for a media interview is always worth it, no matter how big or small. Rehearsing how you plan to answer that worst-case scenario question can help you shine when the pressure is on.

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