Why we talk about the weather: and what it means if you want to give a good presentation or media interview

Did you mention hhe weather to anyone this bank holiday? I’m guessing that you probably did pass comment on the heat – either because you liked it or hated it. Perhaps you said something to someone about the blueness of the sky or how the lovely weather had influenced your plans for the weekend.omas

It’s always said that the British love to talk about the weather – and in my experience that’s certainly true. Lost for small talk? Looking to break an awkward silence? Get meteorological. It’s bound to elicit a response.

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But why do we naturally want to discuss the weather? After all, it happens all day everyday and always has done. Rain or shine we can’t do anything about it and yet we still talk about it. Both the very pleasant weather in Britain this weekend and storm Harvey made the headlines – for very different reasons.

So, here’s why we like to talk about the weather – and why, as a nice, specialist media training and presentation training consultancy we reckon this perennially popular topic of conversation has something that we can all use in our media interviews and presentations.

The weather is relevant to all of us

First, it’s relevant to us all. Wherever you live, whoever you are, however rich or poor, male or female, old or young we’re all subject to the vagaries of the weather and something that we can all relate to makes a good – by which we mean interesting and engaging – news story. But the weather has a greater significance here – it has an effect on us. How you dress, what you decide to do at the weekend, whether your holiday or party was a success and even something as simple as your mood is probably affected by the weather for better or for worse.

Look at almost any important news story and you’ll see the same thing. If interest rates go up or down the journalist will mention the significance of this move for savers or borrowers. A story about problems with funding of the health service will include a reference to the difficulties or dangers that they might present for patients. Changes in exam grading will be reported in a way that focuses on what it means for students. It’s the effect on people that we care about and so when you’re talking to journalists or delivering a presentation make sure that you emphasise how whatever you’re talking about will affect people. That’s not just anyone, of course, it’s your target audience. Whether you’re launching a new product or changing the way you do something, think about it from the perspective of your audience.

It’s forever changing

Weather itself might be a constant but what it does is forever changing – especially on our little windswept island. Sunny one day and pouring the next. Three seasons in a day. A stunning blue sky and then thick grey cloud – there’s always something new. This presses the topicality button for journalists and provides us with something unusual as well. Certainly a hot and sunny bank holiday is pretty surprising and since journalists love superlatives – the “est,” factor – the fact that this August bank holiday is, according to some reports, the warmest ever ticks that box very effectively.

Presentations are usually about change

If you’re giving a media interview tell the journalist something new and something different or surprising such as the arrival of a new product or trend. The weather is constantly changing and most presentations are about change too when you think about it – calling for change, warning about it or advising people to embrace it.

The media love trouble and problems. Don’t blame us – we only like them because you do. After all bad news gets the amygdala going, that part of the brain that deals with “fight or flight.” This is why the damage and misery inflicted by storm Harvey, for instance, will be of interest. Flash floods and lorries caught in snow will always fascinate us, as will pictures of waves pounding the coastline. The danger of getting too much sun might be another risk. Therefore, in a media interview flag up a problem, risk or threat but then offer a solution or a way of avoiding it. In presentations too having scared your audience a bit you can reveal how to turn around this threat and benefit from it.

Think pictures

Talking of pictures, the weather is newsworthy and equally likely to crop up in conversations and on social media because it’s very visual. We always advise people to include visual examples, stories, anecdotes and analogies in their media interviews and presentations. It’s no coincidence that so much of the language around understanding is visual – do you get the picture? Do you see what we mean? Once it’s visual it’s clear and concrete.

We can’t tell you what the weather will do this week or next weekend (we’re not sure that the Met Office can either) but we can tell you that if you’re doing a presentation or a media interview, include as many of these elements and you’ll be home and dry, basking in the late summer sunshine.

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Posted by Simon Brooke on at

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