“Are you a Stream, or a Twisted Garden Hose?” -SDR

Media Training Tips for Zoo Professionals:

Keep the energy flowing between you and your audience

There’s the old saying: “It is better to give than to receive,” but really, that’s only the half of it, right?

“Giving is better than receiving because giving starts the receiving process,” said Jim Rohn.

Deepak Chopra, in The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, refers to the Law of Giving:  “The Universe operates through dynamic exchange… giving and receiving are different aspects of the flow of the universe.”

While these philosophies are usually associated with wealth and prosperity, they can be applied to your next presentation or media opportunity with great success as well!

A wealth-consciousness coach assists the flow of energy as it is associated with money. A relationship coach does the same with love, but as a performance coach, I focus on the flow of energy between the speaker (or “performer”) and the audience.  When the flow is unobstructed, the rewards are great; you have a message that can change peoples’ lives, and, in turn, change the world! It is imperative that you optimize every opportunity, right?  

Effective communication relies on this free flowing pathway. At the most effective level, this pathway is like a clean, life-giving, sparkling stream. If you have had a presentation experience that resembled more of a twisted garden hose, then maybe we should take a look at a few easy ways to re-establish that surge!

The biggest inhibitor of flow anywhere in our lives is fear, of course.  That is a topic that I feel is best managed in one-on-one training. (There are even ways that fear can work for you, and not against you!)  Today, however, I am going to focus on two physical obstructions to flowing communication…the beaver dams in the stream, so to speak.

The first obstacle is the most obvious: it is the stage podium.  Some presenters look at it as a safe have. Well, I don’t think the podium was designed to deflect obstacles being thrown from the audience, and unless your topic is so controversial to make that a legitimate possibility, I say, stay clear of it!  It hides you and obstructs your energy from the audience.  Keeping your notes on the podium and returning to it occasionally throughout a long presentation is totally fine, but open yourself up physically and the audience will open up to you much easier.

Second is a physical blockage that is less obvious. It’s one of the basic elements of communication and emphasized in most speech classes but one of the most misunderstood and underdeveloped skills that I come across. This is eye contact.  

Eye contact is not just a scan from one side of the room to the other.  Nor is it “3 seconds this direction, switch, three seconds there…”  Eye contact to a group should be much like any conversation; think of a party where you walk up to a discussion already in progress: the moment the person speaking makes eye contact, you feel acknowledged and respected.  You have been included.  When speaking to a group, there are certain moments that are the most powerful times to connect and create this same feeling:  usually this is the end of a sentence or a thought. Try it yourself in front of a video camera; read something and look into the lens as you say the last words of each sentence.  It takes some practice but learning to bring the eyes to the audience at the right time can make even “cold” speeches, like introductions of the next speaker, so much easier!

Creating an easy flow of energy when you are sharing your message is a skill that can create a wonderful experience for you and your audience. Ease of flow in communication directly helps the flow of love, money and even health.


Sandra Dee Robinson, (Popular day-time TV actress and owner of the
media training and consulting firm, Charisma On Camera. Sandra is also the co-host
of my radio programs, Zoo(logy) Talkin’ Radio and Bears on the Air).

Zoo Keeper Cams

Three Most Common Questions About Presenting on TV or the Stage… Answered for the Zoo Professional!

No matter what your area of expertise, do you find that the same few questions are always asked?  I think we all do, and today, I am going to touch on just three of the most common questions that I am asked when I work with people who are preparing their message for the stage or for TV; they just might be what you need to know!

So, here ya go!

Q:” I get so nervous before I go on stage, how can I deal with that?”

Knocking knees, butterflies and increasing self-doubt… so not fun!   I know for me, years ago, what I felt was closer to terror! Well, as uncomfortable and disconcerting as it is, a certain degree of nervousness is a good thing.  It is proof that what you are doing matters to you!  First thing to do is trust that the energy running through your limbs and into your belly can be controlled and harnessed to better your focus and help you shine out there. I undermined myself completely in the beginning by panicking the moment I felt my knees get weak, my heart would start to pound, and it got progressively worse from there. My body was reacting primitively to the message I was sending … it was the old fight or flight response that served our early ancestors but, it was inappropriate for that moment. Was there a true possibility of me dying out there? Was my life going to be in danger? No!

What I learned to do was appreciate the first signs of nervous excitement because you know it’s going to be there! And be grateful for it. “Hello, Nervousness. I expected you!  Let’s get going…” Take that energy with you and do something good with it.  Know that energy is going to feed into your audience and your excitement will be infectious!

So, you see, it’s a mindset change from the very start. That feeling of jitters is not the beginning of your demise; it is the start of something great!

Q:  “I worry that I will forget what I need to say!”

Nothing wrong with taking some key points on index cards with you.  Small cards are not going to pull away any focus like a paper would nor will they make any noise when they are shuffled.  It is a learned skill to be able to glance at the information on the cards and not keep your eyes diverted for too long a period of time.  You don’t want to lose the connection with your host or your audience.  It is better to give yourself piece of mind and get all your key points addressed than to be preoccupied with worry.  If cards help you to be more in the moment, then go for it.  If this is a topic you will discuss time and time again, you will eventually be able to go without those cards, but give yourself a break and use them until you feel comfortable without them.

Q:  “What if I don’t have an answer to a question that is asked of me?”

Always admit that you do not have the answer… never fudge it.  Nothing is worth running your reputation and trust.  Simply say something like, “I don’t feel comfortable giving you those facts, until I check on them.  I would like the chance to get back too you on that.”  It’s always best to show respect for the question, even if you don’t have the answer on hand.  Another way to handle it is to ask another clarifying question: “ I am curious as to why you would ask that… what is it you really want to know about that subject?”  You may find that you really can handle the question once it is more specific.

Most importantly, be yourself, have fun and enjoy every moment!

Sandra Dee Robinson

You are Not Your Logo! Quick Tips From Sandra Dee Robinson

Find your authenticity and stand out from the crowd.

When did I become obsessed with note cards?   I know no one else that can spend 30 minutes contemplating stationery; evaluating each available design and qualifying them by the projected emotional reaction each card will evoke when opened by the recipient. I eliminate them one by one, “ too corporate”, “not professional enough”, “ too girlie”…. This process took over half an hour!

It might be understandable if I was in a stationery store the size of Bev Mo, but I was in front of a 3-foot wide stand in a bookstore. A guy at the café table right behind me ordered his latte, drank it, and finished his magazine by the time I decided between the Chinese flower and the French lettering!

So what was my deal?  I now know that every time I send a note card, it is a representation of my brand, much like a business card, but I wanted it to seem personal, no logo, or tag lines…  yet it should have the feeling that I might have designed it. I wanted “authentically me.”

I finally found my perfect cards.  I was pretty darn happy, too that I feel so clear on my brand these days that I was able to make that decision with such accuracy.

I was not always clear on my brand. In the very beginning of my business I remember when I couldn’t tell people exactly what made me different. It took some work, but I got clear in my brand, clear in my message, and increased my business and back account. Let’s take Dr. Jordan Schaul, Zoo Keeper Emeritus, for example. He is very consistent in marketing the Zoo Peeps brand, not just the logo. Anything  Zoo Peeps connects zoo people. I may suggest some ways that he can further distinguish his brand, but some of you already consider him synonymous with Zoo Peeps. For an animal guy he sure has some intuition when it comes to marketing and brand development. Jungle Jack Hanna is a legend in his field.

I don’t even need to say a word. You guys already conjure up an image.

Are you clear in your brand?  Does your visual brand match what you have in print? In other words, when you speak about your business, on TV or in person, do you create the response that you want? Do people act on your call to action?  Do they see the value in what you know, and what you do?

If not, look to see if your authenticity is showing….

The Boring Lawyer

I met a man the other night that was nervously preparing to talk to a group of professionals about real estate law.  “What I do is boring,” he said… Well, good grief, it will be if he walks in with that attitude!

He really likes what he does, but doesn’t feel comfortable speaking in front of people or cameras. So, he feeds his fear of speaking, (which is a fear of rejection, really), by suggesting that his material is boring, and they will never like him!  He has built in his excuse for failure!

I saw a better presenter in this guy:

My suggestion was for him to bring a story; He mentioned he is very fond of his dogs, so I proposed he start his presentation with story that includes them. He feels comfortable with that topic, and he will seem more approachable when the group sees a personal side to him. instead of a stiff lawyer that they might expect to see.  I helped him find a thread in his story that took him into his first point of his presentation.    He got very excited about this idea!

Now, he won’t just be the “lawyer that had the PowerPoint presentation on disclosures”, but he will be “the owner of the Frisbee dog they can see at the park on Saturday mornings! Oh, yeah, and he really knows his stuff when it comes to disclosures… I should give him a call… I liked him!”

What’s happening here?  He is allowing his authenticity to show, and he standing out from the crowd.

Stories are one of the most memorable ways to create your visual brand, and show your authentic difference from your competition.  Having a stable of stories can be ammunition in the interview circuit, too!  If you need help getting those stories down, grab a coach and get them ready.  It will pay off in the end.  Literally!

Then you can “thank” your coach with a nice note card!

Sandra Dee Robinson

Media Training- Quick Tip for the Zoo & Aquarium Professional

Here’s a few simple things to keep in mind when working on -camera:

1. Energy up! Biggest problem I come across is bringing people’s energy up… energy is attractive, and captures the audience’s attention… You can have energy even if you are dealing with a wildlife situation, or a sensitive animal and have to be whispering! Energy comes from within.

2. Chin down… you want to look good, right? Keeping that chin down helps to bring out the cheekbones, and we don’t want to check your nose for debris… that’s your job, so… chin down, eyes up.

3. Let your passion lead you. Passionate about animals? Fascinated by them? Then let the audience see that. Remember fascinated people are Fascinating. -Sandra Dee
Veteran Actress, Media Training Consultant,
& Wildlife Enthusiast (“Charisma On Camera”)