Make you mess your MESSAGE

Robin René Roberts (born November 23, 1960) is an American television broadcaster. Roberts is the anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America.[1]

After growing up in Mississippi and attending Southeastern Louisiana University, Roberts was a sports anchor for local TV and radio stations. Roberts was a sportscaster on ESPN for 15 years (1990–2005). She became co-anchor on Good Morning America in 2005. Roberts was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012. Her treatment for myelodysplastic syndrome was chronicled on the program, which earned a 2012 Peabody Award for the coverage.

Robin has been a GMA anchor for more than a decade and has been with the Walt Disney Company for 30 years (and counting—she’s also been recognized as a Disney Legend, the company’s highest honor). She’s interviewed President Barack Obama, reported on the ground in Mississippi during Hurricane Katrina, and spoken publicly about her breast cancer and Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). She was a first in her industry, and thanks to her hard work and mentorship, she won’t be the last. 

Here are my favorite take away from viewing Robin Robert’s Masterclass Session on Effective and Authentic Communications:

Make your mess your Message

  • When she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, she shared the news with viewers. She even ended up encouraging her colleague Amy Robach to get a mammogram live on GMA as part of a “Mammogram on Wheels” segment. Amy hadn’t wanted to do it, says Robin. She was worried it would feel like a stunt, like she’d be inserting herself into the story at the expense of delivering straightforward news.
  • As it turned out, inserting herself into the story may have saved Amy’s life. That mammogram she got on GMA detected her breast cancer, and she was able to catch it early on. 
  • All of these experiences and more encouraged Robin to “make her mess her message,” as she puts it—in other words, she’s gotten good at turning messy life events into stories that could help others. Other media outlets might discourage their journalists from exploring such personal stories, but as far as Robin is concerned, making her mess her message has contributed to her career. “It made me a better journalist,” she says.

make your mess your message

Authenticity

  • Look people in the eye when you’re talking to them. Lean forward in your seat to show you’re engaged in the conversation. Take a genuine interest. Whether or not you’re a journalist, you need to have a deep, genuine curiosity about other people. 
  • Active Listening: Showing the person who’s talking to you that you are listening to them, thinking about what they are saying, and responding accordingly. 

The secret to communicating effectively ultimately boils down to one action: Listening. 

  • Make eye contact with them. Nod as they’re talking to you, and angle your body toward them to exhibit they’re holding your attention. Don’t look at your watch or jiggle your legs— that’s enough to make anyone self-conscious. Show that person they have your undivided attention—and then actually do listen. 

On Public Speaking

know your audience 

  • Preparation equals confidence. Even those people who embrace the stage and look like they’re ad-libbing their way through a great speech have some predetermined talking points. 
  • The way you present those points, in large part, should be determined by your audience. Before outlining your speech (or your news report), ask yourself what your audience wants to hear.

Enunciate

  • Perfect diction takes some serious practice. Robin managed to get rid of her filler words, like “you know,” but that took paying attention to her own speech patterns. You first have to identify your verbal tics before you can get rid of them.

    Where not to Look
  • Don’t look at a prepared script, and definitely try to avoid writing out your speech in full. Your words won’t sound genuine if you’re reading them verbatim from a piece of paper instead of addressing your audience directly. 

    Keep It Simple
  • You don’t need to impress the audience with your sentence structure. You need to keep them engaged with short phrases and quick, snappy stories. Audiences always have limited attention spans, and your speech better cater to that.  

Think like a Producer

  • When you’re starting off in broadcast journalism, you’re probably going to have to be your own producer. And your own editor. And maybe even your own cameraperson. So you’ll learn firsthand that the work a producer does, as Robin puts it, “can make or break you.” 

Seek Truth and Report It 

  • There’s more to seeking out the truth than sticking to the facts. Seeking truth means providing adequate context so as not to distort the facts. It means relying on as many firsthand sources as possible and crediting secondhand sources (like other news organizations) when you rely on their work. It means taking extra care to verify the information you’ve received while reporting and considering your sources’ motives. 

Regardless of whom you’re interviewing or what you’re reporting on, the main objective is always the same. You’re there to tell a story for the benefit of the public, your viewers (or readers or listeners). 

Robin Roberts Top Interviews

All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

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