I help people become better presenters of their own ideas. It’s what I do. And the brunt of that work has less to do with technique (saying “um” too much for example) than it does psychology. Because once you feel more confident, it’s amazing how all the stuff that falls away.
I know this for sure: What keeps you from owning the crap out of your brand in the media is a twofold fear:
- You’re afraid you don’t know enough.
- You’re afraid people won’t agree with you.
You know enough. I promise. In fact, you may know too much (talk to me about coaching doctors who know way, way too much). And you should always be learning more. But this idea that your head is a big bag you haven’t jammed with enough stuff yet? That is not true.
As for whether people will all agree with you? Yeah, that’s not happening. And let me save you some time: If you are seeking to build a media brand for THE sole purpose of getting people to like, approve of, and agree with you, then GET OUT NOW.
Look, I want people to like me, too. I feel all the feelings. But the way to get past the fears (which hinder your message), you have to make some mental and behavioral shifts. Here’s what you’ve got to do to kill it in the media.
Don’t have time to read? Listen instead (and subscribe to my channel on Umano).
1. Tap your inner expert.
Don’t be cowed by the idea of being an expert. Because if you have a demonstrated area of expertise, you are an expert. There will always be others who know more, are more accomplished. But there’s only one you. To be an expert, you need to start acting like one.
You may be a very bright and successful physician, but if you can’t nail the skills it requires to be a media personality, it doesn’t matter what letters you have after your name. That means you need TWO skill sets: Demonstrated expertise, plus the ability to distill and communicate it in a simple, compelling fashion. And by the way—there are more experts than there are folks who can kill it in the media. And producers are always looking for great new talent.
You have no letters after your name? So what! Neither do I, and I’ve been on Dr. Oz more times than I can count. I’m a known entity there and someone they trust to present information well, period. The media is an echo chamber and so that lady talking about how to pair a shirt with dress slacks is an expert because she decided she was. That’s it. The challenge isn’t what you know, but how you communicate it that makes you media material. You want to be an expert? Start acting like one.
2. Care more about changing people’s lives than their opinion of you. When I started doing more media, Gail Blanke, an in-demand author, speaker, and expert I admire said that the key to communicating powerfully was to focus on the message. Many of the schoolteachers I know are shy, and hardly spotlight seekers, but not in front of a classroom. That’s because they’re driven by what they want those children to learn, more than anything else.
I tell my clients: If you’re not out to change my life in some way, you’re wasting your time and mine. Focus on that urgency, on that mission, above all else. And so will they.
3. Don’t just give information; stand for something. My colleague Hank Norman, cofounder of 2 Market Media, is a real hothead about this. If you don’t have an opinion, than nothing you have to say matters. Because information is so accessible, I don’t need just more info—I need to know why I should care. So if you keep striking out with all your statistics, it’s because you’re not giving the media enough to bite into. You’re soft-pedaling, trying to “appeal” to the most people. You want more attention? Alienate a few. Trust me.
So, raise the stakes. Tell me what happens if I don’t do what you think I should. Take a counterintuitive position, and avoid saying what everyone else says. (See how I did this and turned the tables in a recent interview on CBS). Great ideas are worth fighting for. And if you aren’t willing to put skin in the game, then why are you in this to begin with?
(Watch my video on some key pointers for speaking in the media.)
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