You’re busy, I’m busy. So I keep these tips to five pithy paragraphs. Spread the word if you find them worthwhile!
People quite often ask me what it’s like to read the TV news. “Don’t you get nervous speaking to all those people? How do you concentrate with all that chatter going on in your ear through your earpiece? It must take lots of training!” My response is always that it’s a lot easier than you might think. But at a networking event the other day, somebody put it to me another way.
“I imagine it’s a bit like what we’re doing right now,” she said, looking conspiratorially around the room. “You’re concentrating on what one person’s saying, and talking to them yourself, but let’s face it, all the while you’re perfectly aware of what’s going on around you and maybe even half listening to a conversation next to you …”
I thought to myself what an honest and accurate assessment that was. Yes, as a newsreader you of course want the audience to have your undivided attention — you want to convey the gravity, or humour, of a news story in a way that is appropriate. But you will also be tuning in to the director in your ear telling you that the next live interview is ready, and they’ll be in the big screen over your left shoulder … stand by, ten seconds …
It’s a form of multi-tasking. And we all do that. So my tip this week isn’t about how to read the news. It’s about self belief. If there’s a job in your workplace that you really want, but you’re sure you couldn’t possibly do it because you lack the technical skills, ask yourself whether you might be using those skills already but in a different place … out networking, perhaps, or organising the kids each day, or performing in your team on the sports pitch.
Of course, it may be the case that people in that job you crave rather like to give the impression it’s all terribly difficult, and only a gifted few could possibly do it. But I’d urge you to question that. Heart surgeon, airline pilot, rocket scientist — I certainly don’t have the technical expertise to do them. But some things don’t need great technical expertise. Reading off an autocue, in my view, is one of them. Maybe your next job is one of them, too.
You can find out for yourself how easy it is to read off an autocue on the homepage of my website — or by coming to my next newsroom themed workshop in Brighton on 10 November! And if you’d like to actually see and hear what’s going on behind the scenes of a TV studio, my ‘Secret Life of a the TV News’ illustrated talk may be a perfect ice-breaker for your next conference or away-day.