My partner Ronna and I had a baptism by fire on live TV last week. Invited on Emily Rooney’s Greater Boston Show on WGBH (Channel 2)– same station as Downton Abbey (just sayin’). We were thrilled with our good fortune and excited to talk about betterafter50.com and our upcoming She Did It/Boston event on March 24th.
Excitement and anxiety served us well as we prepared for the interview, which was to be 15 minutes long. First mistake — the show is 30 minutes so why would we have 15 minutes of airtime — big assumption? Whatever! Ronna and I skyped all morning, preparing our answers and deciding who would say what – as though we were in charge of how the questioning would play out. Second mistake.
We agreed we should get to the studio an hour before show time so we had time to relax. The driving could be stressful as the predicted blizzard was in full swing, and the icy rain was on its way. The studio called to confirm we would be coming. Really! If we had to snow shoe the 6 miles from our homes, we’d be there.
Eight inches of fresh wet powder had blanketed the roads and my driveway was untracked. Where was the snowplow to excavate my car from my condo’s outdoor parking spot? Dressed and ready, I waited for the plow to appear but time was running out. With no plow in sight I took matters into my own hands. Shoveling around the tires, brushing and scraping off the car – it took a full 30 minutes to dig myself out. I settled into the car feeling disheveled. Ruddy skinned, dampened hair and snow flakes melted my make-up, plus the heart racing activity had left my blouse damp. Not ready for prime time is all I could think.
As I drove over to the station, at 12 miles per hour, I caught a glimpse in the rear view of my smudged mascara and laughed; this must be why the Today Show sends a car for their celebs. Finally arriving at the studio, I was thrilled to see Ronna who looked fresh and together. She keeps her car in a garage – what a perk (note to file).
Ronna and I went over our notes, rehearsed our answers for what we were expecting to be asked. We had our story together about how we met, how BA50 was conceived, it’s growth, editorial focus – why people should read BA50 daily and subscribe – and most importantly we were ready to talk about our SHE DID IT/Boston event coming up on March 24th at Babson College. We were excited to talk about the workshops we are offering – the day of coaching and take-aways our participants could expect. We were excited to share our event with Emily Rooney and her viewers. Third mistake.
We were escorted from the lobby to the “Green Room” (their holding pen) where guests sat before being escorted onto the set. It was like being at Sardi’s in NYC surrounded by all our favorite stars. On the wall hung the photos of PBS superstars: Masterpiece Theatre’s Alistair Cooke, Laura Linney and of course, Julia Child and Emily Rooney.
Elaine, the make-up magician in the Green Room invited us into her workshop and thank goodness was able to put my snow flaked ruddy complexion quietly behind a mask of powder and rouge. Blushed and eye-lined, I was starting to look pretty good and was considering an investment in some of the products. Ronna looked fantastic and we were both pleased and excited to get in front of the cameras.
We were escorted into the studio, Emily greeted us with a warm smile and we were seated. The next 10 minutes were painfully silent. Oh maybe it was 3 minutes but felt like 10. Our mikes were adjusted but there was no chitchat. We took our cue from Emily who sat silently in a seemingly meditative state. We should have told her right then and there what we wanted to talk about most – but we didn’t dare. In truth, we just assumed she knew. Fourth mistake.
Boom – lights up and Emily was electric. Her energy ramped from 0 to 120 in one split second. We were introduced brilliantly:
“Fine wine, cheese, and George Clooney all have one thing in common: they improve with age. And according to the website Better After 50, women also fit into that category. The weekly online magazine and newsletter shares advice for living the second half of your life to the fullest. “
Did she just say George Clooney and Betterafter50? Booya!
Bam, the first question fired my way (well no need to repeat – you can click on the link and hear how it went). We had prepared to answer the questions but were not prepared to steer the conversation toward our intended goal. This is where experience would have served us.
The interview was over before we knew it. I think we were on for 6 minutes. (less than half the time we’d thought we would have).
Lights down, cameras off – Ronna and I locked eyes – alarmed. “It’s Over?” She said, “It’s Over”, I nodded. “Oh My God it can’t be over – we never got to talk about our She Did It/Boston event – we came here to talk about our event!”
Emily was very kind and told us we did a fine job. We gave her a Betterafter50 Dark Chocolate Girlfriend Bar as a thank you — she loved that. Then, reluctantly – we slinked back to “the Green Room.”
I’ll tell you what happened. TV appearances take training. Do you ever notice that politicians rarely answer the interviewers questions? They are skilled at manipulating their responses to get their agenda across. When they get an opportunity for “air time” they seize it. Needless to say, Ronna and I will not be running for office any time soon – like never. But, we have learned a thing or two.
Not only was this a great experience, we had fun, in fact we had a blast and we’d do it again in a heartbeat.
The good news is — we are now one notch deeper into the “TV interview experience” so, when Matt Lauer calls — we’re gonna be ready!