Hypothetically Speaking

The subject does not always come up during our media training courses, but when it does we always advise people to try to avoid answering hypothetical questions. There is usually very little to be gained, and it often leads to exactly the kind of embarrassing quote in the newspaper which people complain has been ‘taken out of context’. Sometimes it can even lead to dramatic, and unwanted, headlines (as in “well yes, I suppose if interest rates doubled, it would be a disaster for the housing market” leading to the headline “expert warns of looming housing market crash”, which is not what he was actually predicting at all). Instead he could have avoided the unlikely hypothetical altogether and said something like: “I don’t think that’s likely at all, I think rates will remain steady for some time, so …”. This should lead to a much more appropriate quote appearing.