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EXCERPT

11/26/2000 07:00:00 PM Eastern

After 30 years on the air, Bob Dotson knows a thing or two about writing. In his new book, Make It Memorable: Writing and Packaging TV News With Style,
the Emmy Award-winning NBC correspondent shares some of the tips:

"I've done thousands of interviews in the past three decades and have noticed a pattern to people's responses. They nearly always answer a question three times. First, they tell you the answer they want you to hear. Second, they explain their answer. Third, they blurt out a soundbite-if you wait a beat before jumping in with the follow-up question.

"Let the silence grow. Silence makes people uncomfortable. They suspect you still don't get their answer. That's when they put their thoughts into sharp focus.

"Uncomfortable silence helps you get a more memorable, shorter soundbite. And yet, what's the one thing we don't do in this age of live shots? We never stop talking. That's why we end up relying on professional speakers-lawyers and pundits-people who can give us the soundbites we expect, even if we interrupt them. The problem with that is, everybody gets the same soundbites. Often predictable. Sometimes boring."

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