Activity 7.6 - Acknowledge, Bridge, Communicate if it gets tricky

Course: 2018 Science Communication Skills for Water Cooperation and Diplomacy
Book: Activity 7.6 - Acknowledge, Bridge, Communicate if it gets tricky
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Saturday, 27 November 2021, 7:04 AM

1 - Introduction

You don’t want to ignore any questions you are asked, even if they are hard to answer. Instead, if a question is highly challenging you can engage with it and then steer the interview back to your own communication goals. A common way of doing this is to use a three-step technique called acknowledging, bridging and communicating (ABC)

This process is described below:


Let the interviewer know you’ve understood the question by either answering it briefly or telling them you don’t know the answer.

For example: “That’s an interesting question. All we know at this stage is …” or “I can’t tell you that at this stage. However …”


This stage allows you to move on to what you want to talk about.

For example: “I think it’s important to consider what we are doing about the problem” or “Let’s look at what we do know.”


Go back to your key messages and supporting points. Even if you have to repeat yourself a little, it’s better than stumbling on your words.

For example: “The real objective of our work is to solve this huge crisis, which millions of people suffer from each year. The latest research shows …”

2 - Identify ABC statements

Fergus McAuliffe illustrates how to bridge back to his own key messages when asked a couple of questions. Note down the first few words of the phrases he uses to acknowledge, bridge and then communicate.

3 - Your own ABC statements

For the talk you prepared earlier, get someone to question you about it. Practise using ABC. In the comments section, write down one example of ABC you used. Check what other users suggest — perhaps you can use these too.

Here are a few more bridging statements:

“The important issue is…”

“I think it would be more accurate to say…”

“What I’ve said comes down to this…”

“Let me emphasize again…”

“What matters most in this situation is…”

“While ___________ is important, it’s also important to remember that…”

“Let me emphasize again…”

“Before we leave this subject, I need to add…”

“What we really want to find out is if... “

“The impact that this could have is... “