Introduction by Howard Fencl, Hennes Communications
Whether it’s a staff meeting on Teams, a webinar on Zoom, a private conversation on FaceTime or a short training video you record on WebEx, it’s not just what you say, but how you say it.
It goes without saying that as a presenter, you must rehearse your material until you have it down cold before standing up in front of an audience. Similarly, if you’re on the other side of a news reporter’s microphone about to be interviewed, you must have messages, and must rehearse them, even if you’re in the middle of a crisis and have limited prep time.
But to take your performance to the next level, take the time to conduct a careful audit of your body language. Play back a video of your rehearsal. Watch yourself perform in a mirror. What’s happening with your hands? Are they flailing around pointlessly like the guys in bad TV car commercials? Are they nervously jangling around keys in your pockets?
The golden rule here: your use of gestures must be unobtrusive so the audience isn’t distracted from your material. Your body language must complement your material, not contradict it (e.g. you’re talking about an exciting new project but yawning and slouching). When what we see contradicts what we hear, we tend to give greater weight to visual cues.
When you can match the right words with the correct body language – you’re in command of “the message.”
We were reminded of all the above a few days ago while reading this article in The New York Times by Emmanuel Morgan:
Sebastian Joseph-Day, a former defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams, scrunched his face as he recognized his mistake.
Moments earlier, ahead of Joseph-Day’s practice rep as an analyst during the N.F.L.’s broadcaster boot camp last week, an instructor reminded him to remain unbiased and not say “we” or “us” as he described the action in a recorded Rams game.
But staying neutral may have been difficult for Joseph-Day, who spent three seasons with the team. Midway through the drill, an “us” slipped, but Joseph-Day, now a Los Angeles Charger, recovered and finished the exercise cleanly.
The N.F.L. created the workshop 15 years ago, partly because players repeatedly asked for opportunities to develop as broadcasters, to network, and to make blunders in a controlled setting.
This year’s camp, hosted at the league’s West Coast headquarters, occurred amid a ripe time in the media landscape, shortly after several commentators from the N.F.L.’s major broadcast partners switched jobs, most of them signing multimillion-dollar contracts. Troy Aikman and Joe Buck exited Fox after two decades for ESPN, and Al Michaels departed NBC after 15 years to call Thursday night games for Amazon. All will reportedly earn eight figures annually.
The bloated salaries are products of the N.F.L.’s increasing popularity: The league’s games accounted for 48 of the 50 most-watched broadcasts in the 2021 regular season, and February’s Super Bowl recorded the game’s best ratings in five years. Players are noticing the trend and its benefits, said Larry Fitzgerald, a former Arizona Cardinals receiver who attended the program.
“The fan is watching N.F.L. games at a rate like never before, and I think that’s been seen by organizations paying top dollar for top talent,” he said.
Richard Sherman, the free agent cornerback and a camp attendee, added, “It’s definitely motivating a lot of guys, and it’s one of those places I think is going to start to get crowded.”
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Before you’re called into the Court of Public Opinion, call Howard Fencl, Thom Fladung or Bruce Hennes at 216-321-7774 to learn more and schedule your training. Or, visit us at www.crisiscommunications.com.
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