I read the subject line of a recent email, “Media Star,” and threw my head back in surprised laughter to realize the sender meant me. She wrote in response to a radio broadcast, one of my first live media appearances in years. Now that I am preparing for my biggest, boldest endeavor to date, the friendly universe already is conspiring with media invitations that precede my readiness. Time to engage my Pre Gig Ritual.
I have deliberately played small for some time, in part because I had a good pipeline of business and didn’t need the additional exposure. Also, live radio and television are nerve wracking – even for this former Miss Raytown. There’s got to be a reason for my endurance. Encouraged by sufficient return on the investment, I’m willing to tame the nerves with a few rituals you might try before next stepping into the public realm.
Just as many actors report preparing for a role, work from the outside in with these steps:
- Promote the appearance via email, social media, and email signature copy – 1 week before, 1 day before, and 1 hour before.
- The day before, if you haven’t already prepared notes during a preliminary conversation with media producers, write out key talking points to share during the media appearance. Include a clear invitation to engage after the program that will flow naturally in the context of the conversation. (While you genuinely want to be helpful in sharing information, you also genuinely want the exposure to drive people to action that will help grow your business.)
- Dress for the camera, even if it’s radio. Not sure what looks great on you and on camera? Hire a stylist like mine, Jennifer Niehouse, It’s so U!
- Warm up the articulators. (Say “Teeth, lips, tipofthetongue,” increasingly quickly until you’re not stumbling. I also actually sing warmups that rekindle decades of performance concentration.)
- Review your talking points so all is fresh in your mind.
On the drive over, focus thoughts that bring you confidence. Mine are:
- Everything I’ve experienced up to this point has prepared me for this moment.
- I don’t have to know everything in this interview – anymore than I do for any part of my work. I’m a specialist, not an expert, who loves to learn about entrepreneurship experientially and can’t wait to share it all with others.
- Everyone is out to love me (a great turn on the out-to-get-me phrase my mindful friend Michael Duxler shared). I remember the generous praise from hundreds of entrepreneurs that reassures me what I have to share will be valuable to a new audience.
During the appearance
- LISTEN. Again, the best actors and conversationalists report listening as their most important skill.
- Keep your talking points in mind, but follow your host’s lead. Good producers like Matthew Long-Middleton, at KCUR’s Central Standard, prepare you for the conversation and good hosts like Gina Kaufmann don’t veer far. So all should be in sync. (Ever seen those interviews where the host is headed in one direction, and the guest sticks doggedly to the talking points? Really awkward to watch. While it may cost you the message you intend, in such situations I try to redirect back to the agreed focus once. If I can’t reel it in, I follow the host’s lead.)
- Be present. If you’re fully present, you won’t think of who is listening or how many. If your mind wanders to a fearful place, breathe. Your body cannot be tense when
- you’re exhaling.
- Take some pictures before you head out to use in promotions later.
After each appearance, recap to improve for next time:
- Jot any immediate thoughts, tips or do-overs.
- Thank your hosts and producers and fellow program guests.
- Review a recording of the broadcast and critique as objectively as one can while squirming. (You also might invite critique from a professional publicist!)
- Celebrate another notch in my media belt by doing something bold – it’s akin to making a new sales call after closing a big new client. Leverage the buzz to take another big bite out of the world.
- Share a link to the media via email, social media, and email signature. Post it on Linked In and your website’s Media page.
I expect many more media appearances, before, during and after my webcast launch. As in all repetitive things, I expect to improve my talent and process to make the stressful parts less so and the fun parts more so.
Homework: What’s your pre-gig ritual? Do you have a series of things you do or think to prepare you for media, speaking engagements, or other uncomfortable circumstances?
Have a listen to the podcast of the radio spot recorded from KCUR’s program Central Standard episode, “Going Solo” a visit with show host Gina Kaufmann and their Money Therapists, Alex Petrovic and David Jackson. Though the program focused on starting a business, there’s lots of commonalty between starting and growth spurts.
Podcast Now Available
Select Episode “Money Therapy” 11.17.14