Six TV Cameras & No Way Out

Over the past couple years my personal and professional life are more or less merging. I suspect that’s happening with a lot of folks. Anyway, for that reason, I’m posting this on both my blog sites. If you’ve never been to my personal blog site, it’s a humorous look life in suburbia.

The last three days are a good example of the merge, While in Hershey, PA, I spent and hour or two each night at a desk decorated with bottles of water selling for $6, and a small container of $12 cashews, checking my email and writing and posting blogs. Now I’m back home, barely recuperated, and looking back at a hectic three days and nights.

As I mentioned before, I was attending two conferences at once.

With CUPRAP it’s just fun to see old friends and make new ones. The young PR folks are smart and ambitious (though few of any age are diving into Web 2.0; in fact, most are only barely familiar with it).

The American Education Services (AES) teleconference, done in cooperation with Pennsylvania Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (PASFAA) dominated my time and energy. I had no idea how large and complex the operation was until we did a two-hour rehearsal Thursday afternoon in the state-of-the-art WITF studio.
I rushed back to Hershey for a reception and dinner (and a reception following dinner) that night.

Friday morning I drove back to WITF where we all met over bagels and coffee then headed to the make-up room.

I think it was the make-up, the six studio cameras and three teleprompters that made us all nervous. Yes, I’ve been making presentations in all kinds of environments for a long time, but I’d never felt pressure like this, though the AES folks were incredibly kind, supportive and cheery, doing everything they could to put us at ease. I just sat in the studio staring at the prompter thinking “There’s no room for mistakes.”

I looked over at a large digital map with red dots showing people plugged in across the country. “Flub up, man, and your mistake goes nationwide. You are representing Mansfield University.” Yes, I was putting the pressure on myself but the others felt the same way, which came through in our small talk and little jokes about surviving the next two hours.

As the WITF studio person counted down, “10 seconds, nine seconds, eight seconds. . .” I took a deep breath that I hoped wasn’t too noticeable to the others. “Seven seconds, six seconds, five seconds. . .” Was I feeling faint? I’m really not sure. Maybe I held the breath too long. “Four seconds, three seconds, two seconds. . .” Another breath. Be calm. Do well. There’s no way out. You’re representing Mansfield–

The tech’s arm came down, his finger pointing with dead certainty to our host.

We were on.


2 responses to “Six TV Cameras & No Way Out

  1. Dennis, you survived this obviously. I would offer this advice should you find yourself in a similar situation again. Think about the audience, not yourself. I counsel my clients to try to chose an individual in the audience. Someone they know and can relate to, and talk to them. So, it wouldn’t be about you and it wouldn’t be about Mansfield. It would be about Jane Smith, and Janey would find this information of use….It changes the stress level dramatically.

  2. Thanks, Patrick. Excellent advice.

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