The Boy and I got a fantastic tour of the local TV Station courtesy of neighbor and Sports anchor Jeff Gravley today. In our conversation, I was particularly interested in the communication skills that were needed for his job, and also how that has changed due to technology in the last 20 years or so. Having done a few video spots myself, I can attest that it is NOT like getting in front of a live audience and speaking/training — I think it is much harder. Throw in teleprompters, green screens, producers counting down with fingers just inches off the set, bright lights of every ilk and size, varying and binding time slots, and an incredible amount of background noise and concurrent activity in the newsroom and you’ve got a very difficult communications task.In our discussion there were several questions I asked along the lines of, “Is that hard?” Almost all were met with a smile and eyebrows that indicated the skill we see at 11 o’clock (or 6, or 10) each night is born from sweat. Then he shared a how-to list connected to an analogy with sports (I have a feeling that sports anchors connect everything to sports). I connect it to everything we should be doing as communicators.”Three things,” says Jeff. “Prepare, practice, and deliver.”And it really is that easy.
- The QB spends hours in the film room for a quarter of football. The (effective) communicator spends more time analyzing his audience than he does presenting to them.
- The little leaguer fields hundreds of ground balls hoping to never be Bill Buckner. The (effective) communicator tapes, analyzes, and practices tone, inflection, rate, eye contact, and gestures until they are habit.
- The entire team has butterflies and maximum adrenaline with the jump ball/face-off/serve/tee-off/gun/flag/anthem signals the start of the contest. Presenters get the same rush with perhaps higher stakes than some measley hunk of metal as soon as the introduction finishes.
Prepare. Practice. Present. It’s easy. But folks who live only for the game are left to die on the field of play. Leave out the preparation — skimp on the repetition — and you’re not likely to take home the championship. It’s that simple.My other friend Jeff has been participating in forums around Toastmasters that indicate an awful lot of presenters DON’T put in the time to practice. And from what I’ve observed in these many years, it shows. If a TV anchor didn’t practice, he’d not be employed long. If the tennis star doesn’t put in the time, he’s a TV anchor (?) before long (?). If the communicator doesn’t put in the time, she better have some other credential to fall back on.
Prepare. Practice. Present.