The late Andy Warhol predicted that in the future, everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. With the proliferation of media and the desirability of having your product or service televised, you could find your place in the sun as a company spokesperson. Are you ready for that?
YOUR PUBLIC BEST by Lillian Brown is "The complete guide to making successful public appearances in the meeting room, on the platform and on TV" (its subtitle). Ms. Brown knows her subject well; her list of credits includes being a radio producer, voice coach, chief TV makeup artist for CBS News Washington Bureau, and personal makeup artist for five presidents, among many other distinctions.
Her advice covers personal appearance, voice improvement, public speaking, handling the media, and TV appearances.
If getting your point across convincingly is important to you, Ms. Brown's tips will be, too. Her list of most frequently asked questions includes: "What colors are best to wear in public?" "At my age, can I change my voice?" "What can I do to avoid stagefright?" Following are some of her insights on these matters, to help you on your way to becoming your public best...
Don't trust your color analysis.
What colors are best to wear in public? Never wear black, red or white, advises the maven. The two extremes of the color spectrum are black and white, and both the eye and the camera have difficulty bridging the distance between the two. White faces in black suits, for example, are not photogenic. Red is domineering and harsh. Wear blues, grays and jewel tones on the platform or on TV. No matter what colors are flattering to you according to your color analysis, they could be publicly insulting. Ladies, keep jewelry to a minimum; men, avoid the red "power" tie- it will reflect red on the white of your eyes. Look on your tie selection as an enhancement of your eye color.
The public will also judge you by your voice. You know you have a problem when you pop the "p" on a microphone, or when your listeners eyes wander or glaze over after you've been speaking for a while, or when you look mature, but your voice sounds too young! Fortunately, none of these symptoms is irremediable.
Exercise to shape up
Ms. Brown gives lots of exercises for voice improvement such as how to breathe so radio or TV listeners won't hear the audible gasp for air through the sensitive mike you must address. Also, imitating your favorite singer can teach you to pronounce your final consonants which is essential to clear diction.
Perhaps you'll never be faced with a media stakeout or press conference, but you may be called upon to accept an award, or to participate in a panel discussion. Stage fright may urge you to run, but hold on. Through preparation, logic and on-the-spot reasoning with your fear, you can conquer this instinct. Rehearsing your talk and visualizing the setting beforehand can prepare you for a great performance.
Here's_a tip for a dry mouth: "Drop your jaw and rub the underside of the tongue against the inside of the lower and upper front teeth. This activates the lubricating saliva glands, relaxing the back of the throat and giving you the moisture you need in your mouth." (p. 122)
We recommend YOUR PUBLIC BEST as an excellent consultation on this subject. Ms. Brown's 30 years of experience will help you be your public best.
YOUR PUBLIC BEST, by Lillian Brown. Copyright 1989. Newmarket Press, New York, NY.