Friday, January 11, 2008

Local/State Government Leaders Speak

Tonight I watched the Council leaders from Newport, Middletown, Portsmouth, & Tiverton, along with Senate Majority Leaver Paiva-Weed for an hour discussion with Sheila Mullowney of the "Newport Daily News." It was on for a little over an hour & will probably be repeated on Cox Ch. 18. It was filmed by the CATV volunteer group. You will see a write-up in the "Daily News."
This was about as interesting as watching dirt for an hour. My husband lost his "Modern Marvels" program and was not happy about it. The high point of the show was when he went into the kitchen & opened a bottle of cold champagne. He mixed it with a touch of Butterscotch schnapps & served two glasses. Yum.
The program went slightly over the hour & I quickly switched to "Ugly Betty." Ah, a few laughs and actors who moved & had expression on their faces. Relief.
Now I realize that a lot of time & effort went into this program for the 20 or so of us who watched it- mostly relatives, if they remembered. Less you think I have no expertise in this direction, let me remind you that for 30 yrs. I "entertained" classrooms of kids who really wanted to be doing something else besides what I wanted them to do.
Change the formal format. It doesn't work. Perhaps just a semi-circle of chairs. Maybe even a single table with all participants. Change-up the questions. Have some that require longer answers & some requiring short responses. You're not going to be able to cover everything, so why even try? Have some fun. Don't have all reponses in a predictable fashion. Encourage participant's interaction with each other rather than having everything channeled through the moderator. Perhaps they even have questions for each other. How about one controvertial topic that they all don't agree on?
Set design/arrangement is everything. Strive for less formality. This will require participants to actually interact, to move, to register some facial/body emotion. The call-in format didn't work (no one called in). Ask for e-mails if you like. Before you can call for audience participation, you actually need an audience.
So here is the rest of my advice. Remember, besides being a teacher, I was librarian & a story-teller & kept my audience's attention or I died. This is what you need to know:

1. WEAR MAKEUP. I don't care if you're a guy. Under strong lighting your facial features washout. Wear colors. Top marks to Louise Durfee of Tiverton here. She looked super with lavender & white. You are trying to draw attention to your face, so do it. Women, wear jewelry. Men do not have to wear ties, but need jackets & collared shirts/polos/sweaters. Take your cue from the host. Ask beforehand what he/she is wearing if you like. Check out the background set color so you don't disappear.
2. MOVE. Smile, frown, laugh. Top marks to Sheila who looked as if she was actually alive. Use your hands, move your head. Do NOT look down constantly at notes. We don't want to see the top of your head. Water bottles are okay.
3. USE THAT VOICE. I know that you have one. Again, top marks to Sheila. High-low, soft-loud. Speak slowly. Forget the um's, uh's, & ya know's, although this whole group did quite well here. Pregnant pauses work. It shows us that you're thinking or have an important point to make.
4. KISS (Keep it short, stupid). After a minute I draw a blank with quiet monotones. So did some of the other participants (!). Make your point & stop. You can even look directly into the camera- very effective.
5. SMILE. Laugh. Only Sheila did. I've seen cheerier wakes. Use lip color, have your teeth cleaned.
6. Fix your hair. Use a shine serum. Get a cut. No gleaming pates. Shine your nails or buff them out, forget the polish. Shave pior to the show.
7. PRACTICE. Remember KISS. Have a short list of points you'd like to make. Sheila & Teresa Paiva-Weed had the advantage here. They were clearly more comfortable in the setting.
8. STAY ALERT. No spacing out. No slumping. Sit up straight & tuck your jacket under you- it keeps it from bunching. Button up that jacket. You never know when the camera may be watching & there were some rather strange moments. Remember, you're having a GREAT TIME or don't expect us to!

That's it. Not so difficult. Please, don't waste our time or yours. The film/camera people do a great job, so use their talents! Remember to thank them or they just might focus in on that sneeze. Oh, and bring a handkerchief/Kleenex, just in case.
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