Monday, March 22, 2010


Two weeks ago I was asked to be the guest on a live talk show that would be broadcast over 300 radio stations as well as cable TV.  Up to that point, my interviews were pre recorded with the benefit of editing. This was cause for concern.

Now, adding even more pressure, the two hosts were comedians. They had cleverly developed a unique way of delivering business news and it works. As it turns out, there is a significant segment of business news seekers who appreciate this fresh humorous format.

My dilemma was two fold. How do I handle the live aspect and how can I be funny to fit the format. Preparation seemed to be the answer. I developed an elaborate list of questions to cover anything they could possibly throw at me. To be safe, I developed over twenty. I was sure I had covered every contingency. Upon completing what amounted to seven pages of questions and answers, I realized that it was going to be nearly impossible to find any one question on the fly. My next idea seemed to solve the problem. I simply printed each question on a separate page and spread them around my desk. I had room for my phone, lots of notes and no room for anything else on my four by seven foot desk.

Now, how to be funny? This one I figured out in less than a minute. After reviewing my library of humorous material it became very clear. No jokes for me. I have no jokes. I will match their energy, which is a given for me, and leave the jokes to them. I can live with that.

Now came, air time. I am in my office on the phone with the producer who does a simple sound check. He further advises me to listen to the program and respond when the hosts refer directly to me. I am scheduled to be on in three or four minutes, I sat staring at my desk covered with notes thinking, I’m ready to Rock N’ Roll.

In those final seconds I suddenly had a vision of me scrambling to find the answer to the first question. In the next cathartic second I realized the irony of me taking what was already in my head and reducing it to notes that I would have to navigate through. Without thinking further I tossed them in the trash. It felt good and somehow released me from the pressure of the interview.

I went on, shared my thoughts freely, and had fun doing it. The hosts held me over through two segments and, while on the air, invited me back for a series of additional appearances.

The learning here is to be very prepared, of course, but don’t over control the circumstances. I make presentations on a regular basis. The potential mistake is to over control there as well. All of that control does not leave room for those who are on the receiving end of the pitch.

I am headed out later this week, for a very important presentation to the senior executives of a major corporation. As a result of my recent broadcast experience, I have altered my capabilities presentation to make room for the people listening to participate. I recommend you consider looking at this new distinction to see how it may apply to you.


Keith Chambers

Keynote Marketing Speaker
Creative Marketing Consultant
(310) 473-0010

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  1. Hey Keith,

    Great insight — from the perspective of someone that has given presentations and well as received them. Terrific advice!


  2. Thanks CJV...

    Guess what? I almost did it again.

    The follow up to that show came yesterday when they asked me back, this time into the studio. The difference being It was a TV/radio simulcast. Given it was on TV this time, I was less secure. I wrote eight key words on a paper plate that would remind me of new insights that I had not covered in the first radio broadcast.

    During a commercial break I was ushered into the studio and seated between the two hosts. Just as the commercial break was about to end I reviewed the words on my plate while chatting with the hosts. Even that was confusing. I realized that this plate was a disaster waiting to happen and turned it face down. The interview went beautifully.

    It will be posted tonight for all to see. You can look for the plate as will I. Very glad it was faced down allowing me to "Rock N' Roll" with the hosts. I think I have learned that insight for the last time. I own it now.

    CHEERS, and thanks for your interest.