Like many of you, each morning I watch the national news shows eager to assess those being interviewed. More often than not people who should know better perform dismally in the spotlight. Some are quite unforgettable—not in a good way. Until now, hedge fund huckster Martin Shkreli had my vote for insolence beyond the call of duty and against his own best interests. He shrugged off raising the price of a life-saving drug by 800% while displaying a patented sneer that was truly a work of art. Subsequent actions by the SEC and a command appearance before a Senate Sub-committee were probable by-products of that tour de force.
I was eager to hear the new editor-in-chief of COSMOPOLITAN magazine this morning on voting patterns of young women. MISTAKE! Joanna Coles out sneered Shkreli (credit the British accent), used unnecessarily vulgar language, and managed to achieve something that Vladimir Putin failed to do: annoy the usually unflappable Charlie Rose. This thoroughly unpleasant woman did her employer and herself a disservice. Her message—young women are seeking something new—was obscured by her bad behavior and repellent personality.
There are lessons to be learned from those who can relate to an audience and like it or not, authors must master public appearances. Some are naturally gifted in this area but there is still hope for those who are introverts. Consider the following:
- Show your audience and moderator courtesy by listening to the question and answering it succinctly.
- Don’t babble, bloviate, or bore your listeners.
- Even if you are a curmudgeon, learn to FAKE IT. Be your self but be your BEST self.
- Humor, particularly self-deprecating humor is always a crowd pleaser.
- Remember that every appearance is an opportunity—for good or bad. Prospective readers or current fans will be influenced by your public persona.
Finally: with social media and the INTERNET things last forever. Use your time in the spotlight to advance your own interests.