If you are a spokesperson for a business or an NFP (not for profit) it’s important you know how to think on your feet and calmly shift from a negative angle to a positive message.

This skill can help at all levels of an organisation – in meetings and in presentations too.

When I train senior executives how to get their message across and how to handle questions in front of live audiences (in presentations) or in media interviews, I use many examples of prominent people who demonstrate effective techniques. One of those examples is Bono.

(I’m a big fan of Bono’s communicating and speaking skills as well as U2’s music. Harvard professors and the Harvard Business Review carefully study Bono and U2 – details in future post.)

Bono has his critics, but I hope you’ll agree, in this instructive example  he reframes from a negative angle to the positive very well – and shows how you can do it too.

It’s from a Letterman interview in 2011 where Letterman starts with the angle of tragedy and drought in Africa. From around 6:40 in the clip Watch how Bono uses the classic  “Agree + And” technique.  

Bono spends approximately 10 seconds agreeing about the tragedy and problems and then literally reframes into approximately 60 seconds of the opportunity of Africa and positive outcomes that have been achieved.

See what you think.



If he didn’t address, acknowledge and agree with the tragedy part – it would look like he was avoiding the issue. If he spoke only about the tragedy – he wouldn’t get the more positive message across.

You can use this agree +and reframing technique when addressing a live audience (in a presentation or meeting) or when speaking via the media to your “ultimate audience” beyond the reporter or camera.

As well as helping corporate clients, I help NFPs. Even organisations “doing good” can end up in the firing line.

If you are an NFP spokesperson,  you can use the Agree + And technique. If there if some truth and validity in the criticism AGREE with what you do or can agree with AND then REFRAME to the positive work that is being done and the results that are being achieved.

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