THE TRANSITIONING SPEAKER
Making the leap to full-time speaking
For 30 years, I waited for the red light to go on. I anchored the news in three major markets, reporting from countries around the globe, conducting interviews with world leaders like former
U.S. President Bill Clinton and Nelson
Mandela, with a strong focus on health
reporting. I hosted my own talk show
and dozens of television specials.
After three decades in TV news, I
opened my own production company,
Lila Productions, in a quest for more
creative and financial independence.
I’m making documentaries and commercials and serving as a spokesperson
for several companies.
I’ve always done public speaking, but
now I’m charging for my keynotes. Surprisingly, I’m not missing the little red
light. I enjoy the whites of people’s eyes
and the connection with the audience.
Last summer, I joined NSA and was
struck by people’s willingness to offer
advice and coaching. Now, I’d like to
give back by offering my advice on how
to get on TV.
get connected. To be the go-to interview in your specialty, producers need to
know you exist. It doesn’t matter how
engaging you are—they can’t call you if
they don’t know you. Start by sending
them something memorable. One nutritionist I worked with sent tips on
healthy eating and always added a new
nutritious snack. Eventually, we called
her for a segment on fad diets, and she
was a hit. Send an email to the producer
with five enlightening tips. Make it
warm, personable and memorable.
(Note: They don’t want to be hounded
—and never call during breaking news.)
Be current. Relate your message to a
timely news story. Make it brief. Let
them know you're an expert. Tell them
if you have photos or video or a JPEG
of your book cover. (Note: Promoting
your book means nothing to them unless it’s of interest to their viewers.)
Think like a producer. Your goal is to
make the newscast shine. The producers
are interested in boosting ratings and
impressing the news director. Thank
producers for their time and quickly
pitch your captivating show segment.
Be brief and be different. You have 10
seconds to win them over. Make a pitch
as short as a television tease—for example: “The one food that’s sure to improve your sex life.” They know after
your first sentence if this is a go. (Note:
Some days I received upwards of 30
pitches from potential guests. The ones
who stood out were relaxed, respectful
and often funny.)
After the email, send a one-page
pitch in a press kit with a sample of
what you’re talking about. Anchors
love something they can show and
tell on television. Again, top-five
lists work well.
Speak in sound bites. Speak with confidence. As a speaker, you have an advantage over TV personalities who’ve
been reading a prompter for most of
their careers. As a speaker, you can ad
lib! It’s an art many news people
If all else fails, hire the best PR person you know for 30 days to make
those all-important introductions and
see what happens. See you on TV.
Lila Lazarus is an Emmy
So, You Want to Be on TV?
Award-winning TV personal-
ity who has anchored the
news in Baltimore, Boston
and Detroit. She’s an adven-
ture seeker who rides motorcycles, teaches
yoga and serves as president of Kids Kicking
Cancer, an organization teaching martial
arts and breathing techniques to children
with cancer. She is a professor of protocol at
Etiquette University, a seasoned journalist
and an expert communicator who speaks