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self proclaimed best in the world at preparing authors to deal with the media. After attending his workshop I believe he may be correct. He is a former prime time talk show host at a major radio station in Los Angeles. That experience has given him tremendous insight into what radio show producers and hosts look for in guests. And in a highly competitive environment if you don’t know, or don’t have the ability to deliver, what they are looking for you have just two chances of getting on a show: slim and none. If you’d like more information on Joel Roberts and the types of seminars and training he provides you can go to www.joelroberts.com. One interesting observation Joel made in his seminar is that there are three critical trends in the world of communication: 1. Never has the long form been so dependent on the short form. 2. Never has the written word been so dependent on the spoken word. 3. Never has our sense of things been so dependent on the sensation of things. Actually it seems to me that these are not three distinct trends but simply three ways of articulating one overriding concept: Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter and those who don’t find ways to deal with it are doomed to failure.
And this concept seems to mean that shallow and superficial but ‘catchy’ will succeed over well reasoned, intellectually stimulating but ‘slightly dry’ materials every time. Viewed that way the concept is rather appalling. However, it is not quite as bad as it sounds since it really means that you need a short sexy pitch to get heard in an increasingly noisy world. Once you ‘get heard’ and have the opportunity to give the ‘long form’ of what you wish to say there is a reasonable, but not certain, chance that superior material will win out. In any event, like it or not, that’s the way the world seems to be going and as Joel would likely say “deal with it.” The two main, and closely related, skills Joel taught in his seminar were: 1. Giving a pitch to producers and hosts that will get you an opportunity to get onto a radio or tv show, and 2. Providing an interesting interview once you do get on the show. Joel said that to accomplish either of the above it was necessary to use “The Language of Impact” which I believe can briefly be described as stringing together in a flowing and cohesive manner a series of sound bites or attention catching (Impact) phrases that get the listeners attention and motivate them to like you and want to buy what you are selling. Of course Joel provided a more comprehensive explanation of The Language of Impact describing four ‘balances’ that must be included in your presentation. The first balance is between expertise and humanity. What this means is that your pitch must establish your expertise or qualifications to talk or write on your subject. However, this expertise which tends to set you above your audience, must be balanced with ‘humanity’ which causes the audience to like you and feel closer to you. In other words if you sound like a brilliant but aloof and uncaring person you may be
recognized as an expert but also as a jerk who the audience doesn’t want to hear. But of course if you sound like the nicest and sweetest person in the world but totally clueless they will quit listening just as fast. And remember you have just a few sentences to accomplish this because of the short attention span mentioned earlier. The second balance is between Problem and Solution. Your presentation must clearly define the problem you are a solution to. Naturally this applies mostly to self help and other books that do claim to offer a solution to the readers problems. However, this balance may even be useful if your book is a fiction novel provided you can relate your story to current events and somehow twist it so that the story relates to the real world events and your book can be shown as suggesting a solution to real problems. The balance between Problem and Solution must be such that the Problem is clearly defined BEFORE you provide the Solution. And remember the Solution is to be found by reading your book so don’t provide it in full in the radio/tv interview, just provide enough of the Solution to leave the listener in a position where they can’t wait to get your book and find the complete Solution. This should be subtle, don’t ever, ever say “Buy my book” in your interview. If you’ve defined the Problem you Solve and provided a part of the Solution the listener will rush to do this without being told. The third balance is between Concrete and Abstract. In general the balance must be tilted heavily on the concrete side even though your tendency will most likely be towards the abstract. It’s easy to talk in abstract terms. When giving your background as a means of establishing your expertise it seems impressive to say “I’ve consulted with a number of Fortune 500 companies.” It’s far more impressive to say “I’ve consulted with IBM, HP, and Ford Motors.” When describing what your Solution might accomplish it’s easy to say “Your life will be greatly enhanced” but far more useful to use concrete examples like “Your income will be
increased, your sex life will be improved, and you will get along much better with your boss.” The attendees at the seminar were given opportunities to get on the stage and interview with Joel and invariably the biggest problem they had was being too abstract and not providing concrete examples and stories. If your book is a fiction novel don’t describe it in general terms, instead give specific examples of interesting events in the story. The final balance is between You and The Marketplace, in other words you must distinguish between your book and the competition. Answer the question: Why should I buy your book? If your book can be tied to current events this is much easier to do even if it is a fiction novel. If you can say something like “You may have probably heard about the seven year old boy who committed suicide last week. The main character in my book had a son who also committed suicide in a similar circumstance and the events in my book might help explain what happened in this real world case.” Remember the objective of being on the show is to get people to buy your book. Anything you can say that sets your book apart from the thousands of other books available in bookstores and the millions of others available on the Internet will help. Remember, your ‘pitch’ must be limited to three minutes and must include the above balances. By the time you have finished your pitch the producer/host should be salivating as they think about how well their audience is going to enjoy it when they interview you on the air. For the interview itself you must be ready to include the elements in your pitch but in an order that is dictated by the flow of the interview. You must know every part by heart and be able to inject it smoothly in the conversation which must be natural and relaxed. If the host somehow neglects to give you an opening for an important part of your pitch you must find a way to inject it without seeming unnatural. When the interview if finished you must have included all elements whether you say them or the host
does, for example by giving your qualifications as he/she introduces you. You should also have an extended version of your pitch that includes ‘more of the above’ and have every point, clever sound bite, heart warming story, etc. ready to flow forth should the opportunity present itself. Remember that you may only be invited for a three or four minute interview but if the interview goes well you may be invited to stay on a bit longer. Don’t run out of things to say and make a fool of yourself if you are so fortunate. Now let me be honest, if Joel Roberts were to read my summary of his seminar he might yell and pull out his hair. Actually he would be more likely to yell for reasons I won’t go into but the reason I mention this is that the few paragraphs above do little justice to the mass of materiel presented during his three day seminar. It’s my quick and dirty summary and I am fully responsible for errors and omissions. Sorry Joel, please forgive me! If you have found the above interesting I would suggest you consider one of the following:
If you have already published a book and have the time, money, and interest in promoting it and if you are confident that it has the potential to sell hundreds of thousands of copies with proper promotion then contact Joel and arrange to attend one of his seminars or, better yet, arrange for private consulting. Note that I said ‘have the money’ since he is not inexpensive. The seminars are very good if you are aggressive and can catch his attention. Unfortunately he seems to overbook then and even though you pay $2,000 you will find you are just one of ninety or one hundred in attendance and frankly won’t get the attention you need for your money. If you have published, or will soon publish, a book but aren’t quite confident enough to fork over $2,000 plus then contact Joel and arrange to purchase his 14 CD recording of a
previous seminar which will be very useful. I believe the price is around $500 and if you are diligent in listening will provide much of what you would get out of the seminar itself at a fraction of the price. At an absolute minimum I would recommend waiting a few months until Joel’s forthcoming book “The Language of Impact” is published and buy a copy. I’m not exactly sure when it will be out but you can probably check on his webpage (c) from time to time and find out. I have little doubt he will announce its availability. And assuming the price is reasonable, less than say $30, I’m sure this will be a great value.
One final comment: No matter which of the above suggestions you follow it would be a good idea to start work on your short pitch right away. The best way to do this would be to join Toastmasters, if you are not already a member, and explain to the group that you need to practice your ‘pitch.’ I’m sure they would allow you to practice once a week and give valuable feedback each time you do. You might point out the four balances to them so they have a useful criterion for judging your performance. Good luck!