I have just come to the end of a six week stint of media duty in promoting my book From Behind the Mask. I must admit I am totally exhausted, both mentally and physically so am taking a little time out to rest and do more mundane things at home. As I enjoy this small hiatus my mind turns back to review the events over the past weeks which have been exciting if tiring.
Unlike my campaign days I was prepared for the foray back with the media this time. Past experience had taught me a lot of lessons and I started with a very different attitude. Rather than be startled by interviews and want to get it over as quickly as possible I tried to embrace them. The book, whilst important to me, is not a matter of life and death so my view was to relax, enjoy and observe what unfolded.
What I had forgotten was the sheer physical energy it takes out of you. It is not just the matter of getting from A to B which sometimes involved hours of travelling. Once you’re there you are whisked from car park, to studio, to on air. You meet a myriad of runners, producers, photographers, reporters and presenters and desperately try to remember names and faces. News and event coverage is now so quick and instant that the general energy around newspapers, radio and TV is breathtakingly fast and gone are the days of checking if your clothes are wrinkled or worrying about your hair or makeup. You are there, you’ve got a few minutes to get your thoughts together and then you are in front of a microphone or camera with the bright lights on making you squint.
It doesn’t matter how many times you have rehearsed what you would like to say it is important, once you’ve
gauged your surroundings, to boil these down to 2 maybe 3 sound bites which you might get a chance to verbalise if you’re lucky.
You must concentrate hard on the presenter in front of you and the questions that are being asked. In a nano-second, you have to make a decision as to how you are going to reply, what you are going to say and is it possible to get one of your sound bites in. Whilst focussing like crazy on all this you have to try to look relaxed, engaged and smiley. It is the proverbial swan trying to look elegant on top yet paddling away like fury below.
Typical interviews only last a maximum of 5 minutes (you’re lucky if you get more) so allowing for the time it takes to ask the question you’ve probably only got 3 minutes of actual speaking time. If it is being broadcast live it is even more crucial that you think before you actually speak in case anything inappropriate or unmeant were to issue.
This is why, after 6 weeks of interviews and engagements I feel as though I have been flattened by a steam roller! My body is creaking like an old battle ship and my brain is sort of babbling away in my cranium without making much sense. Hence, I am taking a breather. Thank goodness it’s the Easter break – it is my intention to stuff as much chocolate into my face as possible.
On balance though, this time around, it has been a pleasurable experience.
Have a happy Easter!