It seems that nearly every week there is TV discussion about drugs or cannabis, and TV researchers are always looking for people with something to say to appear in the audience.

This guide explains how to maximise the effect of your appearance. It's based on one published on the ukcia-l mailing list many years ago, but it still holds true.

You are in Politics and law

UKCIA guide to appearing on TV

Assemble a list of SIMPLE facts to support your argument. Learn them thoroughly. What is your argument? Is it crystal clear. Can it be described in 20 words? Is it a reasonable social goal that will protect people from harm, organised crime, and hard drugs, for example?

This is very important. Do not get involved in complicated arguments and explanations. One liners, sound bites, are what work best, such as prohibition causes crime, damages society; cannabis isn't a controlled drug and so on.

Press this sort of thing hard, you are the respectable person in this debate, you are the one against lawless anarchy. Talk about drugs being placed under social control, accuse the prohibitionists of being irresponsible and friends of organised crime. And don't think you have to answer their questions, you don't. Remember that you are not talking to them, you are playing to the peanut gallery. Everything you say should be for the benefit of the audience, so come back with savage one liners even if these are only slightly to do with what the prohibitionist is saying. This is better than being dangled on a hook and trying desperatly to rationally answer them. You'll never convince them anyway. Remember, if it needs more then 20 words to say, forget it or rephrase it.

If the opposition are older than you they will try to tell you "things" and hope you and the audience will take them as fact by the seriousness of their delivery. Nowt could be further from the truth. Challenge them. Don't let anything go.

Insist on going second in the debate - get to know the strength of your enemy. Tell them anything to get this (stage fright, for instance, or appear to be physically shitting it with nerves). If you can't go second then trot out a very reasonable and socially pragmatic (yet responsible) opening statement and wait for them to respond. (Remember to learn this word for word).

Stick to the facts of your case.

It's important to remember you're not addressing a huge audience - well, you might be talking to millions of people but each one is in at most a small group watching TV. If you speak as if addressing a huge public meeting you'll come over badly. Look at the camera when you're talking - that means you're looking at the viewer!

Do NOT alow yourself to become sidetracked by the opposition. Keep to the topic you have prepared. Tell the host in a half-amused way that you think the debate is becoming bogged down, then re-state the facts.

ONLY deal in facts, facts, and more facts. Have a few references to throw in such as the New England Jurnal of Medicine, BMA, Lancet. A few authors and doctors will go down very nicely and prove you haven't just woken up.

Never use percentages. They look suspiciously like bullshit.

Don't get stoned or drunk before you go on.

Always challenge the opposition to prove their assertions - because that's all they'll be. If they quote references though, you can acuse them of cherry picking data and anyone can do that. The phrase "urban myths are all very well but I think we should be onsidering the facts which are that..." or some such is a nice one to use. "Merely repeating that statement doesn't make it any more believable than Just Say No. What is true to say is that..."

Don't get passionate. Be on the ball, open, and friendly. Maintain control in the face of the bullshit. By doing this you are likely to be handed the last word so prepare a closing statement (in one sentence) because the host will realise the quality of your argument.

If you come up against Stoker the Anti Toker (or a cohort) he will harp on about the University of Missisippi having thousands of papers illustrating the harm "drugs" do. Tell him you have visited their on-line library to request them but they've never heard of these papers. He trots this shit out every time and so far he thinks no one has ever checked it....sick 'im!

Be slightly amused by the ignorance of the opposition and share this with the host. Get him/her to tell them off, in other words.

Dress smartly, comb your hair, check your flies, sit up straight - for a yoof!

Relax. Have fun.

Don't forget to record it so you can cringe in the privacy of your own home!



















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