Making regrettable choices is inevitable for anyone but, when you’re in the public eye, the stakes are higher and the risks are greater if you refuse to answer certain questions pertaining to your misdeeds. The purpose of today’s episode is not to help you respond when you are asked about divorce, infidelity, or being palsy with a convicted sex offender.

This episode is about strategy; the strategy you need to employ to answer the questions you don’t want to answer. In it, we discuss Microsoft Co-founder, Bill Gates, and the big PR push he has embarked on to clean up his reputation following his very public divorce, the allegations of extramarital affairs that led to that divorce, and his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein. We focus specifically on an interview that Gates did with Savannah Guthrie for the Today Show, examining his responses to the questions he didn’t want to answer, analyzing some of the verbal and non-verbal communication cues that give away how he truly felt, and outlining what we can learn from them.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Bill Gates’ PR push to clean up his reputation.
  • Gates’ laudatory introduction on the Today Show and what we can read into it.
  • Insight into Gates’ promotional tour; who, where, what, and when.
  • How he chose to answer a question about how he is coming to terms with the divorce.
  • How Gates’ body language betrays the message he tries to impart through his answers.
  • Examining how he deflects when asked questions he doesn’t want to answer.
  • The little tells that give away how you truly feel at the moment of a question.
  • Some non-verbal communication cues that illustrate Gates’ discomfort.
  • The importance of owning your mistake, explaining it, and making a promise.
  • Why we believe Bill Gates did a sound job in the end, particularly when it comes to timing.
  • Today’s Indestructible PR tip: if you have to respond to a question you don’t want to answer, answer the question always!

 

Tweetables:

“The message is clear, the message is good, however, the body language does not match what he’s saying.” — @MollyMcPherson[0:10:33]

“You can be media trained within an inch of your life and those little tells will always give away how you truly feel at the moment of the question.” — @MollyMcPherson[0:13:25]

“If you are not going to promise something of your behavior or promise something of your character or your actions, you talk about moving forward at least. You talk about where you’re going.” — @MollyMcPherson[0:18:34]

“If you find yourself in that difficult situation when you are answering to something, just answer it. Rip off the BandAid, use the framework. Just own it, explain why it happened, and what you’re going to do moving forward.” — @MollyMcPherson[0:20:55]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Sunday Times: ‘Bill Gates: ‘I’m grieving the same way Melinda is’’

Today Show: ‘Exclusive: Bill Gates talks divorce, Jeffrey Epstein, Elon Musk’

Molly McPherson on Twitter

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