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The pressure of perfecting your pandemic presence - A technical tale of two years!
Some clients ‘got it’ early, others still don’t ‘get it’. Seems adapting to change comes harder for some. Taking our media training presentation skills from ‘onsite’ to ‘online’ has been a major shift in how teaching & learning happens for us & our clients.
The first thing we had to do as a company, was make the coaching experience feel special. We had to simulate the experience of being interviewed LIVE in a TV studio, except our clients were zooming in from their kitchen tables. For one-to-one coaching sessions in Sydney, we could handle the technical requirements but we soon realised that for small groups we needed help. The money we used to spend on camera crews & operators, is not used on green screen studios with operators. They handle our appearance, plus the recording & playback of mock interviews and presentations.
The clients who switched to online learning love it! The learning experience mirrored the reality of actual media interviews which were (and most still are) conducted remotely. Time was saved. Skills were perfected. And no one left their homes. The online version of our media training & presentation skills put the focus clearly & unavoidably on the skills. When there’s a camera on you for four-six hours, there’s no where to hide. Clients paid attention like never-before. There were so scrumptious morning teas served in plush boardrooms with beautiful views to distract us. Just me, the client & the skills that needed perfecting.
The other attractive aspect of taking learning online, was how much cheaper it is for the client. No more airfares flying me into various cites across APAC. No more one-night stays in fancy hotels to worry about. All we needed was a good internet connection & a quiet room.
Once we’d sorted out the ‘technicals’ at our end (camera, lights, sound & background), we began the delicate process of assessing & gently correcting the ‘technicals’ at the client’s end. This was usually a polite, persuasive invitation for the client to significantly change their set-up at home. Some companies we work with understand the importance of this process & invest in equipment for their employees. Ring lights, usb mics & virtual backgrounds with corporate branding began appearing. Believe it or not, some clients have sell not given their ‘technicals’ any thought at all. The idea of raising the camera on their device to eye level to avoid the world looking up their nostrils while talking to CNBC was news to them.
Since March 2020, it’s been fascinating to watch some clients put off their coaching in the hope that covid restrictions would eventually ease & the onsite experience would be possible. One client waited twelve months for this and when we eventually conducted the training fully masked, socially distanced in an oversized room, I couldn’t help thinking that they had wasted a whole year waiting for this, while other clients had completed their coaching online & had been conducting regular media interviews online.
Of course, I’m happy to continue onsite media training when it’s safe to do so but to think this is in any way superior to the online experience does not reflect my experience over the past two years. With 2022 beginning and the virus – with its endless variants – sell ever present, I know that presenting yourself online in media interviews or to stakeholders, is here to stay. In recent months, the dreaded hybrid dynamic has been appearing more & more. Spokespeople are expected to connect with audiences onsite & online, a challenge for even the most experienced public speakers.
There’s never been a better time to talk to the media or your stakeholders. No more taxis across town, security checks, waiting around in a cold studio for your turn to talk. Today you simply turn on your computer, check your ‘technicals’, remember what you learned in your media training & you’re good to go!
Paul Carr is a media interview & presentation skills coach. He co-founded Double Confirm Arts & Media (Malaysia) as well as Paul Carr Media (Singapore). – Media Training Sydney
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