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aration for my presentations on ethics and rhetoric. One point all judges made is that lawyers rare- ly are able to employ humor or sarcasm to positive effect. Most times they hurt themselves and their clients. These people are trained speakers and they can’t do it. You should not either, un- less you know you have the skill to do so in the context of the ap- propriate audience.

Damage Control In the James Bond movie

The World Is Not Enough, Q de- parts by dramatically descend- ing through a gap in the fl oor as he turns his job over to R. As Q disappears, he says poignantly, “Remember what I’ve taught you, 007. Never let them see you bleed.” Q’s advice is relevant for all of

us. We can stumble, say unartful words, make mistakes and say words we later regret. That is hu- man and unavoidable. What we do after the mistakes and unart-

ful words, however, is a matter of skill, mental toughness and practice. Don’t let your audience, particularly any opponents, ever see you bleed. One way to minimize an error

is… drumroll… admit you made an error. The phrase “I shouldn’t have said that.” can offset a lot of harm. You can explain your mis- statement: “I didn’t have all the information.” “I emphasized one fact more than I should have.” “I did not give suffi cient atten- tion to this variable.” You can say that you are now more informed on the topic and have presently a more nuanced opinion. And so on. Admitting an error isn’t ‘bleeding;’ it’s showing that you are strong and a person of judg- ment and character. Do not fall apart and dissemble if you make a media error. Don’t look back. Look to the future and the posi- tive opportunities it presents for you.

Always be respectful and poised. If you cannot be both,

then be quiet. Silence will not hurt you; disrespect and lack of self-control can plague your en- tire career. There is no shame in not

knowing. If you don’t know something, say you don’t know. Don’t falsify or fi ll in the blanks with guesses and speculation. You can offer the honorable re- sponse, “I don’t have enough information to speak knowledg- ably on that matter,” or say “No comment.” Be confi dent. In every en-

gagement with the media, and, for that matter, with any audi- ence, be confi dent. Cultivate an air of authority. Always keep in mind that you are being inter- viewed because of your achieve- ment. You earned the spotlight. Confi dence in your words and presentation of yourself develop the same way your confi dence as a competitive athlete develops; by focusing on achievement, awareness of your hard work and the aura that you take yourself

seriously. Confi dence is manifested, in

part, by the fi rmness and com- mitment to your beliefs. Don’t be wishy-washy or a squish, which are not a technical terms but have practical value. Also keep in mind that confi dence tends to keep the bullies at bay and silences critics who count on insecure people being unable to stand up for their principles. The media experience offers

another venue for you to present yourself in an honorable positive way. Now you can be outstanding through your words, your poise and your wisdom. I wish you well.

Michael G. Sabbeth is a lawyer in Denver, Colo. He lectures on ethics and rhetoric to law associations and civic and business groups. He is the author of the recently published book, “The Good, The Bad & The Difference: How to Talk with Children About Values.” Please visit his website at

@MichaelSabbeth July 2013 | USA Shooting News 43

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