TV News pundits make it look so easy. Just look into the camera and read off the teleprompter. Come across as honest, sincere, heart-felt and believable. Have you ever noticed how people interviewed on television are always told to look at the interviewer off camera? There is a reason. Those of us that are not trained in the world of television, can’t help a shifty glance, a single glimpse to right or left, an attempt to read the script while pretending not to. It makes us look ridiculous, and not even enough to land us on America’s Funniest Videos.
Two weeks ago, I read a blog to my colleagues. Normally, this is not done in our weekly gathering of fellow businesspeople. We are supposed to report on our businesses, briefly. Reading a blog is not brief. Nothing daunted, I thought my comments were funny enough to share. As Snoopy once said while typing away on top of his dog-house, “I am a great admirer of my own writing.” To my pleased surprise, my fellow businessmen actually laughed at the appropriate spots.
Freddie, the aforementioned mentor and guide, insisted that he would not have understood the blog if he had tried to read it himself. “You should read it on a Youtube video,” he suggested. When something is “read by the author” there is much more feeling, much more emotion, much more understanding for the audience. Yea, but . . .
I tried that, a few weeks back. I hoped to do a weekly series of Youtube clips called Texas Tidbits. A friend and fellow businesswoman offered to help. She does her own weekly videos about happenings in Huntsville then posts them on Facebook. It works to get her name known in town.
We went outside her office with her cell phone. While standing next to a historical marker, I told the story of Ima Hogg, one of my proposed tours. It’s not like I haven’t spoken to audiences before. I’m a teacher, after all, and have been for some fifty years. I’m used to telling stories to audiences.
This, however, was, in my view, a disaster. Fumbling, shifty-eyed, uncomfortable, and never mind that the camera does, indeed, add 50 pounds to a body that certainly did not need to have any more weight added. Anorexic Rachel Maddow I wasn’t.
Tommie, a fellow businessman from our local car dealership, was also planning on doing a series of Youtube videos on all things automotive. There used to be two brothers, Click and Clack, the Tappett brothers, who offered advice about cars and car trouble. They were on NPR, before the days of Youtube videos, and their comic success eventually got them a nationally syndicated weekend television show. I think Tommie was planning on something similar.
Our business colleagues were entranced. Once the idea was proposed a new concept was born. Why not get together? Do a series called The Cowboy and the Doc? Or Tex and the Teacher? Why not tape some at the dealership to explain car parts? Then other videos at the antique stores around town for historic effect? It sounds so easy. Just stand there and talk.
I remember now that I have tried on numerous occasions to tape speakers at conferences and presentations. It never worked. A friend and fellow colleague who actually worked for a company that did just that, explained why. She assured me that I would never succeed without proper lighting, special microphones, make-up artists, good scripts, years of training, and a background staff of dozens of professionals. Check out Wikipedia under Television crews. There is a good reason the credits at the end of a film roll on forever.
The combination of new technology makes it possible for anyone to produce a Youtube video. Eight and ten-year-old kids do it. A simple cell phone, a tripod to put it on, a suitable backdrop, something to talk about and presto. You are on the Internet. But professional? Not likely.
As we launch our first effort this week, without the necessary staff, crew, professional help or scripts, I am fairly certain that we will be closer to America’s Funniest Videos than to the Tappet brothers.
Maybe there are some ideas that should just be allowed to die a quiet and timely death.