Have you ever seen a veteran politician be interviewed by the press? You’ve probably noticed a few things that they do in an interview. Skilled politicians will never directly answer a question. No matter what a reporter asks, most politicians will continually give the same answer over and over again.

To the average voter or viewer, this may be frustrating. Why can’t they simply answer the questions? The answer is a strategic one. The politician’s goal is to deliver his/her message. They have crafted what they believe to be an effective sound bite to deliver their message. And they deliver their message consistently no matter the question.

Right now, republican legislators who took a hard stance against the Affordable Care Act are being asked questions about the positive impact ACA is having in their home states or how not applying for Federal Medicaid funds is hurting seniors. What sound bite are republicans using? “I’m not a doctor.” Regardless of whether you believe this to be an effective message, the fact is this sound bite evokes a frame in voters’ minds. They’re politicians, not doctors. Doctors could be expected to be an expert on healthcare issues, but not politicians. Will this sound bite work? Time will tell.

The effective sound bite follows these key rules:

Be Clear.  Speak in simple language that can be easily spoken and understood by people from all different backgrounds.

Be Concise.  A good sound bite should be no more than 20-30 words and can be said in 7-10 seconds.  It will convey your message easily.

Be Consistent.  Repeat the values you want to get across constantly and consistently.  Everything you say should move your message. 

Limit your facts.   If you are including a fact in your sound bite use only one and remember the previous two rules: concise and consistent.

Be Convincing.  Use stories or metaphors to illustrate your points and make it “real” to your listeners.