How to Argue Like a Pundit, by PR Expert Rich Masters

How to Argue Like a Pundit, by PR Expert Rich Masters

By Rich Masters on April 11, 2013


There are two schools of thought on how to win an argument on television. You can memorize the talking points that the DNC or the RNC sends you and spit ’em out at whoever you’re up against. We call that rip and read, which gets a little stale. The other school is the Joe Biden school of extemporaneous blather. It has the virtue of appearing more genuine and helps you connect with your audience. Face it, Biden is everybody’s favorite D.C. interview. But message discipline and Joe? Oxymoronic.

So how do you combine the message discipline of school No. 1 with the spontaneity of school No. 2? By using something I call the message diamond. When the host asks a question, the very first thing you do is answer it. Don’t duck it, don’t hide, don’t run from it. Then pivot to your message, and back that with a little Biden: an interesting anecdote, an example that amplifies the major point you’re making. Then you close out by restating your message. That way, no matter how it’s edited, no matter how it comes out, you’ve hammered home your message and added a story to make it stick.

Now, for debate shows, it takes a little something extra. First: Smile while you swing. If folks don’t like you, they won’t care if you win. Next: You want to know your opponents’ arguments as well as your own. If you know what they’re going to say in advance—and 99 percent of the time you know exactly what they’re going to say—you’ll be able to take their own argument, twist it around their neck, and kick ’em off the bridge with their own words. And finally: a big zinger, something unusual that they weren’t anticipating. That’s what viewers will take away, that something special. In Louisiana, where I cut my teeth debating, it’s what we call a lagniappe.

• Masters is a partner at public relations agency Qorvis Communications. As told to Joshua Green

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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