What if you don’t know the answer?

Often you will be asked for facts that you do not have at the top of your head.  It is possible to get quite defensive in these circumstances, feeling you are letting the side down by not knowing.  Do not make the mistake of assuming that the reporter had previously imagined you to be somehow omnipotent, being in possession of all the possible information on a topic.  Better to be quite open.  Rather than apologising too much and conveying your awkwardness, just say something like “I don’t have that information/those figures right in front of me, but I’ll do what I can to dig them out, and I’ll come back to you.”  You have bought yourself more thinking time – and the reporter would generally prefer the right answer in fifteen minutes rather than the wrong answer now.  But do follow through.     (Taken from the book The M-Factor by Tom Maddocks)