Anyone who knows me knows that I loathe public speaking. Let’s get real…it’s scary. Since I was in middle school I had an uncontrollable fear of it. When I had to present a school project, it would keep me awake at night (several nights in advance) and be this horrible, never ending pit in my stomach that wouldn’t resolve itself until I was on my way home, away from the torment. Yes, that’s how much I hate it. I rather jump out of a plane…for a second time. So, when I got the news that MSNBC extended an invite for me to come on and present my business idea I was ecstatic; for about 3 minutes. Then those feelings slowly retreated and became an all too familiar pit in my stomach. I am going to go on national television and announce to the viewer’s my business idea. No problem. I got this. Right?? Sure.
After a few calls with the booking producer from “Your Business” on MSNBC, she explained in detail what was going to happen. Basically, if you’re not familiar with the format, it’s a show for entrepreneurs to come on and pitch their idea in 60 seconds to two panelists (see below for the video!). The pitch needs to be memorized. No cue cards, no prompter. These panelists are influential leaders in their respective industries, remarkable marketers, and part of the C-suite club. Also, they have been in front of the camera multiple times and have grown rather comfortable. I on the other hand spent most of my career behind the camera directing, producing and talent booking. Side note: now I can truly empathize for how nervous some of my previous subjects were.
I forgot to mention an important detail here. The producer said we would really like you to come in next week for the taping. Yes, in 6 days. Knowing the studio is in Rockefeller Center in New York and I am in Florida, I had to make some quick decisions.
This led me to way out the options:
- Nice exposure for the brand.
- I get to practice pitching to influential business leaders.
- Good way to make connections I may not have had otherwise.
- It’s always good to get out there and push yourself to the next level.
- I love my old NYC stomping grounds
- I could go on and on for days here…
- I could royally screw this up.
- Nerves could take over and I could completely blank on my pitch. Then I would come home, crawl under the covers, adopt 30 cats, grow old and eat cookie dough while I watch marathons of Full House on Netflix.
So, I decided to go.
Off to New York
As a native New Yorker, I am always excited to go back but I have never done the trip in 24 hours. This was quick! My amazingly supportive husband came with me and as a television producer himself, it was nice to rehearse the pitch (a billion times) and bounce ideas off each other.
Like I said, this was a quick trip so we landed on a Wednesday afternoon and the taping was Thursday morning. Lucky for me, my best friend works in New York, so we had the chance to catch up over dinner and get a few good hearty laughs in before my night of sleepless tossing and turning.
Day of the Shoot
Before I knew it, it was 7am and I had to get ready and head over to the studio. MSNBC was gracious enough to book us a town car where I practiced the pitch out loud about 20 times on the ride over. Hey…10 NYC blocks equals roughly 25 minutes in rush hour. I was going to practice every chance I had.
We got to 30 Rock and I was oddly calm. The producer came down and escorted us to the news floor. Immediately, I felt back in the zone. It’s like I never left NY. I found myself walking with more determination, more purpose and at a faster pace. I guess when you live and work in Manhattan for as long as I have, that pacing never really leaves you. We quickly made our way to the green room, passing Joe Scarborough (the co-host of Morning Joe on MSNBC) in the busy hallway. As I gave Joe the friendly “I know you, but you don’t know me” nod, I felt right back in my Letterman days.
Another side note: Joe’s 6’4” frame is hard to miss in a crowded hallway.
The very sweet and cheery stage manager came in and said he needed to show me my mark. So we followed him on set. At rapid fire speed, he said “we will mic you up, then you will stand here facing the panelists. When I motion to you, step forward and introduce yourself and go right into the pitch. Got it?”
There were only a couple of crew guys on set at the time. My instructions were easy so I felt pretty good during the quick rehearsal. I got this right? Right? Sure. Time is ticking.
I soon found myself in hair & makeup where they so graciously made me look like I actually got my full eight hours. As they were doing final touch-ups, there it was. That horrible pit in my stomach rearing its ugly head. I just got reeaaaallllly nervous. The kind of nervous where you’re blocking out what everyone is saying, and you could actually puke if you think about trying NOT to puke.
The producer came in and said “we need to get Jackie on set right now.” As my husband, the booking producer, the stage manager and myself made our way back into the studio I felt like I was about to present my school project to the class. Was I totally prepared? Did I do everything I could possibly imagine not to screw this up? Should I be anticipating a life of 30 cats and cookie dough?
The Big Moment
They mic’d me up and brought me on set. There were the two panelists waiting to hear my pitch, looking lovely, confident and so secure in their own skin. I was envious.
Before I knew it the set was bright, the cameras were pointed in my direction and the show’s host, JJ Ramberg was introducing me. The stage manager gave me my cue and I was off and running (I was thinking: START TALKING NOW)!
All I know is that I spoke for 60 seconds straight. Something probably went right because one minute came and went and I spoke the whole time…and now I’m done talking. Sooooo, we’re done already?!
As they we’re still rolling, the host quickly came over, asked me a couple of follow up questions and the panelists gave me their feedback. At this point, I was so happy I got through it that I remember smiling a lot and feeling like…I must look really crazy right now…and…what just happened?
Their feedback was so positive, honest and constructive. It was certainly appreciated since it came from two women who bring so much value to their own businesses.
It was done! I did it! After the segment, I was completely buzzing from all the adrenaline. I think my face hurt from smiling so much. I actually didn’t want it to end!
We said our goodbyes, thank you’s and exchanged information.
Last side note: my husband walked right into NBC’s Lester Holt on the way out. We were completely blocking his way as he tried to move quickly down the hallway. Oops.
Reflecting on this experience I know I pushed myself to do something that I was SO nervous about and it paid off! I look back and think it’s ok NOT to over think everything to death. Just go with your gut…and GO! When you push yourself out of your comfort zone, that’s when the magic happens. That’s when the memories happen. That’s where the next opportunity might come from.
The uncomfortableness is why I gravitate towards featuring these entrepreneurs because they are doing something every day that is scary. THAT is inspiring.
This will always be a wonderful memory as we push JackieDeals.com to the next level.
Till next time!