It’s virtually impossible to overemphasize the value of the bridging concept, a technique that empowers you to deal with any question while communicating a key message.

Here’s how it works: you get a question that you can’t answer; you briefly address or acknowledge the question with a response such as “I can’t speak to that,” or “I don’t know;” then turn to a message that is important to you and your audience.

The Biden Administration’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan provided a perfect example of bridging during a CNN interview. Anchor Dana Bash asked Sullivan about a proposed Israeli plan for post-war Gaza. In the clip below, watch how Sullivan briefly addresses the question, then goes on to deliver his own message.

What is crucial here is that Sullivan didn’t ignore the question by jumping immediately to his talking point. Politicians do that all the time and it drives people crazy.

Instead, Sullivan briefly addressed the question and then delivered his message. This is how the bridging technique works. Master this and you will become a much more effective communicator in virtually every situation.