How to Be and Not to Be Opinionated

 In Blog

FOX Sports commentator and soccer legend Carli Lloyd kicked a hornets nest talking openly about her former teammates on the US Women’s National Team in the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

“Uninspiring, disappointing. They don’t look fit. They’re playing as individuals. And the tactics are just too predictable.” When the Portugal team hit the goal post and missed the winning point, Carli saidthe player of the game was that post.”

Carli Lloyd’s comments stirred up as many headlines as the game itself and likely guaranteed that she will be in demand for more on-camera commentary in the future.

Strong point of view is how great media personalities stand apart from generic hosts. We coach all presenters to share authentic emotions, inner thoughts, personal stories, and opinions.

But opinion is tricky. How you give your opinion determines if you are considered entertaining or boring, interesting or offensive.

Here are guidelines to consider as you begin giving the world a piece of your mind.

  • Keep it short. Summarize your hot take in a couple of sentences, and move on. As content, opinion often runs out of steam quickly.
  • Tell stories. Carli Lloyd said some USWNT players are “entitled” and backed it up with an example of how team staff are treated rudely. Allow more airtime for stories than for opinions.
  • Consider emotion. The feelings behind your opinion will be felt by the audience. Happiness and sadness are more accessible to mainstream listeners than anger and fear — express those opinions with reserve. 
  • Consider relevance. Be cautious with political or religious opinions on an entertainment show. If you go there, speak only for yourself; “I go to church every Sunday” is acceptable in any market. “You should go to church every Sunday” is going to turn off audiences.
  • Strong expertise = Strong opinion. An American Airlines pilot went viral recently with a strong take on rude flyers that reached 4.6 million views. That Captain’s opinion was well received. Speak more boldly if you have experience on a topic.
  • Disinformation is not opinion. Former NBC Today Show host Megyn Kelly got fired for stating that white people wearing black face was “OK”. As an educated media professional, she knew that blackface has not been OK since the 1960s.
  • Harmless crazy opinion is OK. On WRMF’s top-rated KVJ Show, audiences love Jason Pennington for his strong belief in aliens, Bigfoot, Chupacabras, and Loch Ness Monster. A host who states crazy opinions about substantive topics like coronavirus prevention could influence someone into actual harm, but no one is likely harmed if they are persuaded to believe in Bigfoot.
  • Don’t back down. When Carli Lloyd got pushback on her comments, she doubled down“I was the only one brave enough to say how it is.” If you are right, state it again as fact.
  • Apologize when wrong. My rules for media apologies are:
    1. Apologize unreservedly.
    2. Promise to never make that mistake again.
    3. Never make that mistake again.

An authentic media personality says what they believe and believes what they say. Successful presenters are both outspoken and thoughtful about what to share, how to share it, and how their opinion will land with a diverse, worldwide digital audience.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

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