TED TALKS: Stage Presence

The Ted Talk format is becoming increasingly popular. We’ve worked with quite a few clients recently who find themselves anticipating a Ted Talk-style presentation, but no real understanding of what that means beyond the bright lights and imposing stage featured in YouTube clips.

In order to demystify the process and encourage you to present your best selves on stage, we’re going to offer a tip a week over the next few weeks. Let’s start with stage presence.

#1 — Use the stage.

If the stage is properly lit, and the AV team hands you a wireless mic, then you’re expected to use the stage. This is great news, because you’ll be better able to engage the audience. The podium creates a barrier, so view a podium-less stage as more casual and therefore friendlier to you and the audience.

#2 — Don’t wander aimlessly.

Be purposeful in your movement – pace slowly to one end of the stage, stop and deliver a few talking points. Then pace slowly to the other end of the stage, stop and deliver a few talking points. If you really want to prove to the audience that you know what you’re doing, time your stopping point with a critical point in your remarks.

#3 — Don’t turn your back to the audience.

If you turn your back to the audience, you cut off communication. Always face forward, even if there are screens behind you. The venue should provide confidence monitors at your feet so you know what the audience sees on the screens behind you, which means you have no reason to turn around.

TUESDAY TIP: Reporters have an agenda

We’re just going to say it — reporters have an agenda. Therefore, don’t ever walk into an interview with the expectation that you’re about to engage in a fair Q&A. You’re not, and you never will.

Don’t believe us? Listen to this exchange. Ed Helms reveals what it was like to interview Daily Show participants. The discussion starts around 1:17:00, but here’s a snapshot:

Ed Helms: “But I’m not a real journalist. I have a game I have to play and a script I have to stick to.”

Interviewer: “That they don’t even know they’re playing, really.”

Ed Helms: “Usually they do know that they are playing a game. They just overestimate their own defense mechanisms and their own ability to handle it. The people that knew the show the best were often the easiest to hoist on their own petard because they were cocky. And they don’t even consider the fact that you get to walk away and sit with the footage for two weeks and use whatever part of it you want. You have the final say. They don’t.”

Interviewer: “It’s a rigged game. And not in a bad way…”

Ed Helms: “It is very rigged. Listen, I’ll say it: We took advantage, sometimes.”

But don’t let Ed’s honesty keep you from agreeing to media hits. Instead, use it to your advantage.

Here are the three things you need to keep in mind as you walk into every interview:

#1 — Just do it
Agree to the interview. Even if the reporter has an agenda, he/she can’t put words in your mouth.

#2 — An interview isn’t a Q&A 
Don’t ever treat an interview like a Q&A, because it isn’t. Instead, take control. You should walk in ready to deliver your talking points, which you can do by blocking and bridging. Acknowledge the reporter’s question, and then pivot to what you want to talk about.

#3 — Your audience is at home
Even though the reporter is standing in front of you, or talking to you via an IFB, your audience is the viewer/listener. You aren’t trying to convince the reporter of your talking points, you’re trying to convince those who will read, listen to, and/or watch your interview.

TUESDAY TIP: Tax Day Talkers

While we’ve cheered the passage of tax reform at the federal level, there’s still plenty to discuss and reform at the state level. And Tax Day presents you with the perfect opportunity to do so!

One way to highlight the need for tax reform at the state level is to use comparisons. Comparisons are powerful, because oftentimes people don’t realize how good or bad their state’s economic performance is until they view it in light of neighboring states or the majority of states around the country.

But there are a lot of states, and a lot of numbers to accompany each state’s economic performance.

For this reason, we suggest you check out the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) just released report Rich States, Poor States. It breaks down your state’s performance and outlook based on fifteen policy variables. This is a fantastic resource you should use to cite data points that support tax reform at the state level.

Now, go forth, play up that state pride, and use Tax Day for good!

TUESDAY TIP: Equal Pay Day

According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, Equal Pay Day “symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.”

Excuse me? If true, this is horrifying. And if true, it’s easy to understand why people usually present an emotional argument in defense of the gender pay gap.

But the defenders are wrong, and we have the data to prove it.

Watch as Christina Hoff Sommers of the American Enterprise Institute summarizes what the data tells us about the gender pay gap:

The good news is we have facts on facts on facts to combat this myth. The bad news is we’re trying to dismantle an emotional and false narrative. Tread carefully.

Here’s how we recommend you respond when confronted with an unfair question or false claim about Equal Pay Day:

Q: <Insert false claim or unfair question about the gender pay gap>.

A: “If what you say is true, we should all be outraged. But the reality is <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, validate the emotion of the other side before you make your case. If you don’t, people will assume you don’t care. And if people assume you don’t care, they’ll stop listening. Reiterate that you would share their outrage if the disparity existed. It’s just you know it doesn’t. So, really, you’re the bearer of very good news. Adopt this approach, and we guarantee you’ll change hearts and minds on the gender pay “gap.”

Interested in DMG’s services? Contact us! We’d love to work with you.

Spring Must-Haves for TV

Though the weather hasn’t gotten the memo, today is the first day of Spring. Warmer temps and sunnier days are ahead, which means you need to consider how you’ll switch up your TV and public appearance wardrobe. Below are a few of our favorite recommendations for ties, dresses, and products to usher in the new season.

Winter leaves us with very little color, so don’t hesitate to fake it ’til you make it in these first few days of spring. Jergens is the best we’ve found to help you do so.

Couple warmer temps with the anxiety of a media interview or public appearance and you’ll want to take extra precaution to guard against sweat. We recommend packing a travel size deodorant to reapply right before you step behind the mic.

Happy Spring!

Secrets for Q&A Success

Speaking in front of a live audience can be terrifying. Not only do you have to prepare and present talking points to keep the people engaged, but you will likely have to answer questions at the end.

Sometimes Q&A provides insightful commentary and allows you to talk more in-depth about an issue; other times, you field a filibuster and/or hostile questions you’d rather not answer.

It’s a risky situation, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself and the audience.

Here’s what we suggest:

Step #1: Set ground rules. You might think this is an unnecessary and condescending step, because who doesn’t know how to handle themselves during Q&A?? Turns out, a lot of people.

Before you take the first question, explain that you will only respond to questions (NOT comments), and the questions need to be brief to allow as many people as possible to participate.

Step #2: Don’t follow Justin Trudeau’s lead.


We get it, Q&A is unscripted and less formal. Anything can happen! But a joke or petty correction that leaves you apologizing days later means it was better left unsaid.

Even if you disagree with the premise of the question, or the words/phrases used, don’t insult the asker. Kindly reframe the question, and then block and bridge to the response you want to give.

Now, go rock that Q&A.

The gift that keeps on giving.

You guessed it! The gift that keeps on giving is what DMG does best: media training.

Whether you’re new to interviews or just want to improve your performance, it’s always a good time to purchase a session for yourself and the media star (or stars) in your life.

DMG offers customized training to highlight strengths, increase confidence, and refine message delivery. Sessions can be organized for individuals or groups in hourly, half day, and full day increments, and all interview formats are fair game – TV or radio; satellite or in-studio; live or taped.

We know that every media interview is important, so let us help you be your best self behind the mic.

Road Rage

We’ll all encounter road rage this holiday season – some of us will cause it by “driving defensively,” and some of us will experience it thanks to the too-slow driver in the passing lane.

Regardless, here are a few tips to communicate effectively from the driver’s seat and avoid the fender bender that keeps on giving in the form of a higher deductible.

Eye Contact
Just like eye contact is key in an on-camera interview, it’s also a great way to guilt someone into letting you merge. And if you smile while making eye contact? Game over.

Once you’ve successfully merged, make sure to wave “thank you” to the driver who let you in.

Use that horn for good
Not all honks are created equal. If possible, communicate with a friendly honk. A light “excuse me” or “you’re about to hit my bumper” tap go a long way to de-escalate the situation.

Be self-aware
If you follow no other rules of the road this holiday season, please follow these two:

  1. The left lane is for passing ONLY. You will anger other drivers and impede the flow of traffic if you stubbornly choose to drive in this lane regardless of speed. Please drive on the right.
  2. If you anticipate needing to merge because your lane is ending, don’t drive all the way to the end of the lane and cut in front of those waiting in line. Abide by the zipper effect. Be kind, and get in line.

We wish you happy and safe travels!

Smiling’s my favorite!

Stand tall: check!
Good cell reception: check!
No background noise: check!
Smile: check…?

While it might be weird to add “smile” to your radio interview check list, it’s important that you maintain the same facial expressions you would for a TV interview. Even though radio isn’t the visual medium that TV is, using facial expressions changes the way your voice sounds and forces you to be more animated. It’s true that people can hear you smile even though they can’t see you smile.

So, next time you have a radio interview, or perhaps next time you’re on the phone with a family member, practice sounding more engaged. Stand up, smile, and look at yourself in the mirror to watch yourself engage with your invisible audience.

Trust us, you’ll sound more conversational if the audience can hear your emotions.

Trump, Twitter, and You

Twitter has been the hallmark of Donald Trump’s communication style from the beginning of his presidential campaign until now. The likelihood that he’ll suddenly log off is laughable, especially as we’ve watched him receive overwhelming coverage for recent statements.

But as the Trump administration moves forward, his tweets will only increase in importance. (READ: midterm elections, relationship with North Korea, tax reform success, etc.)

If you haven’t fielded a question yet about his social media presence, you probably will…and soon.

So, how do you keep the conversation focused on your message instead of the world’s most famous Twitter account?

Here’s our suggestion for how to navigate:

Q: “What do you think about <insert latest tweet>?”

A: “I’ll let the TV pundits and communications experts hash out the effectiveness of his Twitter strategy, but when it comes to <insert talking point>.”

By focusing on the substance of the policy behind the tweet, you can sidestep the semantics for the most important thing: the issue. Don’t fall prey to arm-chair quarterbacking the tweet itself, focus on substance and you’ll make better use of your 30 seconds to clearly deliver your message.