How To Become A Successful Anchorman

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Scott McGrew is a television anchorman on the NBC television station in San Francisco California. He hosts his own television show as well, debating issues with SIlicon Valley superstars and just launched a podcast about venture capital Sand Hill Road.

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Victor Ahipene: Speaking nation. Welcome to another episode of public speaking secrets. I’m your host, Victor Ahipene a super excited to have you here. I’ve got Scott McGrew who is a television anchor man and uh, he’s, he’s been, he’s not your, your Yang Command like the movie. He’s actually a responsible and sees the appropriate things on stage and uh, he’s not welfare or watch is probably a good thing. The He’s, he’s been on the television for the last 20 years. He also MCs large events like, oh, like, uh, the entrepreneurial, uh, awards and as area as, as well as runs his own podcast and TV show where he interviews such startups and in the local area. So we’ve got to be able to dive into a lot of different things was they all take a different skill sets when it comes to public speaking. So I think there’d be a lot of value no matter where you are. Because I know for many people I talk to and myself included, there’s this kind of new median. I, I’ve always been a confident speaker, but then now we’ve got the camera, which is more and more prevalent in the world, uh, to getting our message out there so that anything else to be said, Scott, welcome to the show.

Scott McGrew: Well, thank you victor. It’s funny to bring up anchorman because I have teenage sons who their friends don’t watch television news and so they don’t really know what I do. But the minute my kids say, you know, you’ve seen anchorman, right? And the kids say, Oh yeah, of course. That’s what my dad does. Right.

Victor Ahipene: It’s um, it’s, uh, it’s, Eh, look, he put you on the map.

Scott McGrew: Yes, exactly. Well among, among the young people who no longer watch television.

Victor Ahipene: on that point, how so you’ve been on, you’ve been on TV the last 20 years.

Scott McGrew: Yeah, 20 or 30. I’ve been with the NBC out of San Francisco for about the last 20.

Victor Ahipene: And, and so with that, obviously lots of stuffs changed in lots of stuff, has stayed the same. And I think that’s very, very similar with public speaking is yeah, like I said, videos become a median net that you know, more people have access to. They don’t need to have tens of thousands dollars of, uh, of equipment to be able to put themselves online and get themselves out there. What are some of the things that maybe people wouldn’t know happen when it to being on being at being an anchorman and um, you know, some of the, the key skill sets that you’ve seen that have, how’d you well over time?

Scott McGrew: Well, obviously one of them is just pure experience. You know, you tell young reporters and young TV anchors just be yourself. But I think you have to get into maybe your forties and 50s many of us, until we’re confident enough to just be ourselves. So as you, as start as a young person in television news, you have kind of that furrowed brow and the frowny face where you’re trying to look old and serious and intense. And then you look back at old tapes of yourself and realize how silly you look. A, the, the most important thing is to just let your own personality come out. Now obviously in television news we have teleprompters, we have scripts, it to some degree, we even have script writers who do much of the writing for us and we read or presented. Uh, but you need to be able to get in there and edit it and put your own, put it into your own words and your own style of speaking so that you really can victor be yourself.

Victor Ahipene: We’ve got a TV anchor over here who is like a sporting great. Um, he’s, he’s probably in his 50s now. His name’s Molly Lois, but he is horrible.

Scott McGrew: But he’s well known.

Victor Ahipene: Yes, yes. As for it’s pretty much for rugby league, which is like a big sport in Australia. He’s um, I dunno. Probably the equivalent of a, yeah, like a Michael Jordan that you decided to put on TV for the sake of him being famous.

Scott McGrew: Well you’ll be, you’ll be very pleased to know my, my son Ian plays rugby and the San Francisco Rugby Club has, has a bar in it so you can have a beer and go watch their kids play rugby.

Victor Ahipene: and nice with, with this guy. What’s horrible about him as his lack of vocal change. Uh, or it does it, it doesn’t match the, doesn’t match well. Hello everybody and welcome to blah blah blah.

Scott McGrew: Yeah, it’s clearly reading. Yes. The Best I can very much be be reading a script or a teleprompter and you don’t realize we’re reading.

Victor Ahipene: Yeah. And that’s what I wanted to know from you because I know some people when they’re doing say sales videos or uh, yeah, that, that creating a product launch or something for the business, um, you know, they’re wanting something that’s very smack and doesn’t have any filler. It’s very consistent. It’s very concise and engaging. How, how do you improve apart from 30 years of, of doing it, um, with keeping your voice as natural as possible and being able to have fun, have that natural flow that we see a lot of you anchors out there have,

Scott McGrew: I, you really need to know the material that you’re reading and read, you know, read it with the emotion that in which it was intended. I, I also do a biblical readings in church each Sunday and as I read it and people come up to me and say, oh, I really enjoyed that. I really understood the passage. You have to understand whether it’s a newscast or a, you know, a Bible passage at you’re reading. What was the point of this, you know, newscast story, what was the point of this Bible story? And then you’ll begin to realize where you should be able to pause, where you should hit certain words harder, where you should change the inflection of your voice. So if you are doing a sales presentation on something that you’re very intimately familiar with, you should be able to be able to deliver that, that information in a way that sounds passionate, that sounds like you understand what it is. I can tell you that you can tell when somebody’s on the news is simply reading a script for the first time without understanding where it’s going, what direction it’s going in. Because they do do sort of your Wally, the news presenters, uh, you know, sort of flat tone because they don’t know what it’s about. So really knowing your material, and that doesn’t mean memorizing it necessarily, but really knowing what your material is and the tone is going to give you that authentic sound.

Victor Ahipene: Yeah, cause I, yeah, I mean, you do notice that light, this Justin taught news is.

Scott McGrew: absolutely, well, we talk, we say that, you know, sometimes reading yourself into a corner because you, once you take the intonation one way and then you realize, oh, and the person died at the end that you think, oh my gosh, I started this off.

Victor Ahipene: Terrible. Sent a really enthusiastic .

Scott McGrew: that has happened. Yes.

Victor Ahipene: I mean, I think those are really valid points. Valid points that would be really actionable points for people to, to know is I’ve seen people on teleprompters, yeah. Shooting videos and things like that. And I mean, I’m all for being an extemporaneous speaker that you can just speak off the cuff and know what you’re talking about and you don’t need, the teleprompter is different, but there’s different circumstances. Say, yeah, you’re not going to do that. And a news broadcast every single day because then it’ll go for two hours instead of one hour. And

Scott McGrew: Yeah, I’ve seen people use teleprompters, uh, you know, in, in, I’ll do what you were mentioning, an awards ceremony or something like that. Uh, maybe I would use the teleprompter myself, even if it’s not on television, but there’s a large crowd, uh, and it’s offered to me, but, but teleprompter is a, is a skill that you learn over time to not look or what we call a teleprompter stare. Um, where it looks like you’re not just staring at the thing, you’re and you’re not reading. Um, I would, you know, I would say shy away from teleprompter as a crutch unless, you know, there’s just so much material that there’s no way that you could understand it all. And again, don’t ever try to memorize anything that’s uh, that’s a terrible road to go down, but understand what it is that you’re talking about and unless you’re really good at it, right off the bat, teleprompter is not necessarily a great answer.

Victor Ahipene: Yeah, and I mean, the only time I’ve seen it used as if people have got say a sales video where there might be some post editing, but also because I’ve got s specific psychological points that they’re trying to hit throughout it. And then it’s like, yeah, if you do miss that, that can be vital. Whereas generally in most presentations we give you forget one little thing and no one else knows that. But yeah, if it’s the difference. But yeah, I think those are, those are really the interesting side of things when it comes to, um, say your, your press here TV, uh, which is you’re interviewing local local startups, is that right?

Scott McGrew: That’s right. It’s a if your viewers and listeners would like to watch it on the Internet. Uh, local for me is silicon valley. So the companies that are local to me are Google, Facebook, apple, apple is just down the street from my house. It yes, exactly right. Netflix, uh, I enjoy Netflix is, is just over on the highway a couple of blocks away. And when we have visitors come and I’m taking them home from the airport, will pass this rather nondescript, uh, uh, office building and I’ll point at and I’ll say, and that’s Netflix and you can see them double take like, oh, really? Yeah, no, it really is. Sometimes we’ll stop and in front of the sign and take a picture. So, uh, yeah. So I interview CEOs and startups and venture capital, the money behind technology here in San Francisco every Sunday morning. And as you point out, it’s available on the Internet for anybody to watch.

Victor Ahipene: And so with that, with move, obviously having been on both sides of the microphone with podcasts and things like you have to have a degree of knowledge in that particular skillset to be able to type conversations in particular directions. You don’t have to necessarily be an expert, but you know, if, if you’re being a sports anchor your whole life and then you try and move into interviewing silicon valley startups, you’re not going to be able to hit on the key questions. Um, are there preparation systems that you go through when you’re looking into these companies or have you got someone who does that? Um, and what does that tend to look like to be able to ask? When I say the right questions, I guess good questions that are going to get ideally be to answers.

Scott McGrew: Well, you’re absolutely right. You need to, if you’re podcasting or thinking about writing or doing some sort of presentation, do the thing that you’re passionate about because you’ll know so much more about that than everyone else. That said, I think good questioning is a skill that can be learned. Yes, I do all of my own preparation. Part of that Victor starts with choosing the him or herself. Uh, I get pitched lots of guests by public relations companies that are hired to get, you know, their CEOs are their, their clients on television. Hundreds and hundreds of them. Uh, and I only picked very few that will actually be on the television show. Some of them might go out and find myself cause I’m curious about what they do. But a great deal of them come to me is to, to want to be on the show. And if I can’t think of what that very first question is going to be, if I can’t wait to ask what that, you know, that very first question, then I, I tend not to have them on the show at all. Uh, the, the guests that I choose are people that I think are going to be super interesting that if I had found them at a cocktail party, I would corner them and say, you need to tell me everything there is to know about whatever it happens to be. Uh, that said it’s okay to ask questions that to the person answering them are incredibly obvious because your viewership or your listenership doesn’t necessarily know the answer. You might not know the answer. That’s why you’re questioning the guy. Right. So it’s okay to ask an astronaut, what does it feel like when the rocket blasts off? It’s kind of a simple child, his question, but everybody wants to know the answer, don’t they?

Victor Ahipene: Yeah. That’s really interesting cause yeah. What I’ve found that my previous podcast, I interviewed young entrepreneurs and it was kind of as always partly on a journey myself. And then it got to a point that at the start I was my target audience. I was wanting to know a lot of these things and as I uncovered more and more things and then learn stuff outside of the podcast, I hit to remember to keep my questions to my target audience. So a lot of the time I would be asking, asking them at the start of my podcast, the first few episodes, questions that were very self serving because I knew that they would reach my target audience. But that also helped me. I’d just ask questions that I generally wanted to know, whereas

Scott McGrew: genuinely wanted to know, and I will give you an example because I’m sure if you heard of Theranose, it’s the the blood testing startup that caused quite a scandal here in America with a young woman who had dropped out of Stanford at the age of 19 to create this multibillion dollar company that tested blood in a certain way and it turned out to be a complete scam. Books had been written about it. There’s a, there’s a, a movie special about it, a podcast called the dropout that I recommend to your listeners. If somebody had simply asked her the question, Elizabeth, how is it that you are 19 years old at the time you drop out of Stanford that you have created an that has completely changed everything that everyone’s ever tried to do with blood testing? How would you possibly accomplish that? And can I see this machine working well? That would have ended it right there because she have a working machine and it was a reasonable question to ask and I don’t think anybody ever asked it. So even the obvious questions are okay to ask.

Victor Ahipene: Yeah, that’s, that’s really interesting because it’s that progressive, it taking them through the journey, particularly in that startup space that you are and you, uh, talking about people want to know that initial journey that I’ve been through to create something. Yeah. A startup isn’t a hairdresser or a bakery or restaurant. It’s something that’s ideally changing a particular industry or you’re revolutionizing how something’s done. So people were actually interested in the journey, not how did you start up your restaurant. Wow. I always like cooking and I thought I’d create that, which is not quite the same. So very, very, yeah. Very, very interesting points. What have you found? Um, you know, you get often a guest and I’m sure you probably got it. If you’ve got a developer or something who’s, who’s the person that you’ve got on and yeah, this kind of painting and run with the same brush, but someone who’s not necessarily outgoing and doesn’t give the, haven’t been PR trained very well and they don’t give the hose nice long answers where they can do more of the talking, then you can do less of it. How, how have you, have you found any strategies to be able to kind of get more out of people in that sense?

Scott McGrew: I’ll, I’ll, I’ll answer that in two parts. Victor. One is the overall strategy is you have more than one guest. Yeah. Yeah. We have a half an hour television show and we have more than one guest for that very reason. If the first guest doesn’t turn out to be very interesting or is not very a, a verbal and it doesn’t have a lot to say, we’ll move on to the next guest. Uh, and that’s the safety that’s built in to having more than one guest. Now that said, uh, how do you get more out of the person? I do suggest that you ask emotional based questions. Factual questions are not particularly interesting and there’s something that can be handled, uh, in, in, you know, in, in the beginning of the television show. My first guest graduated from such and such university and is this old and lives in this particular spot, et cetera. All the basic stuff. Uh, asking the questions, you know, when, how old were you when you started your, your create your company? Oh, I was, I was 27 is not a particularly interesting conversation. Rather, you know, you were 27 when you started your company. Did you ever imagine it could grow as big as it has, that sort of thing where you’re asking emotional questions, even with your restaurant example, I think people might find a restaurant, a startup. Interesting. You know, I’ve always wanted to, to open my own restaurant, but I, I’ve always wondered what kind of food I would make. What do you think is the best sort of the, uh, a food that people should be eating and why did you choose yours? Those sorts of things because you’re going to get that emotional answer of my mother always used to make whatever and you’re going to get a story out of it as opposed to, well, how many guests does your restaurant seat? Well, 47.

Victor Ahipene: Yeah, it’s a, that’s really interesting and something I think I need to improve on myself. Uh, oh, I think probably everyone came consistently question questions, but yeah, you hear the saying if you want better answers, ask them the questions. Uh, and I made a lot of, it really does fall on, on the person, on one side of the mic to give a platform for that other person, particularly how nervous they often are. Uh, if they’re on. Yeah. Particularly with you say that,

Scott McGrew: cause people are nervous about, you know, I will, I remember all the facts and all the figures and all of the right answers. Well, there’s no wrong answer to, you know, the day before you walked into that venture capitalist’s office and ask for $10 million in funding, were you nervous? You know, cause they know whether or not they were nervous. Tell me about that day. And then they’re falling back on their own memory about something that happened as opposed to trying to get facts and figures out which, which are the things that make people nervous when they, they talk on radio or television. I always reassure people, I’m not running a quiz show here. You, I promise you will know the answer to every question I asked because you are you.

Victor Ahipene: Yeah. And I think that’s, yeah, that’s, that’s the big thing is, you know, I’m not here to make you look bad.

Scott McGrew: Absolutely. That’s another thing that’s not to say I’m not going to ask you a tough question, but I am not here to make you look.

Victor Ahipene: Yeah. Um, and finally with your MC work and hosting, uh, in real life, I guess you can say, I know you’re out of the stuff was in, in real life, but you’ve got that screen is a, is a barrier. What’s, what do you find has made it, that places come to you apart from apart from the social proof of being on television that people, people and Events and places have come to you saying, Hey, Scott would love you to MCL event and then how do you go, what steps do you take to create a good event and the name,

Scott McGrew: I’ll give you a couple answers on that. The first answer I always are, the first question I always ask is when you say MC, describe to me the job. Am I here to read a script that you’re giving me? Am I coming up with my own script? When you say that you would like this event to be over at 9:30 PM, is that my responsibility? If somebody is talking too long, you know, a, a guest speaker or something, am I the person who’s keeping us on time or am I just here as the host in saying the things that you want me to say? That’s my first question is who’s in charge here? Me Or some stage manager, either answer’s fine, but let’s make sure we got that at a time. The other one is, is to be as, as genuine as you can with the audience. I have a couple of tips there. I always use what I call a softened startup. When I come up to the microphone, I will usually give some sort of, Oh, I dunno, anecdote, you know, as ladies and gentlemen, as I was walking up here, I was talking to Joe in the backstage, he’s the stage manager and he said something in which you’re just, you’re not saying, and now the beginning of the show, something that puts people at ease and it just something that feels genuine to you, to them, where they don’t realize, oh, I guess we’ve started now having we something that gets you on their, on their side. Uh, the other tip I would give you that I have seen too many speakers do is don’t be self deprecating. Don’t say, Gosh, I’m really nervous to be up here, or I’m not going to keep you for very long or otherwise sort of apologize. Never apologize to your audience. They paid money to see you or they at least, you know, took time out of their busy schedules to come see this award ceremony or whatever it happens to be. Get up there and be confident and never ever be self deprecating.

Victor Ahipene: Yeah, I love this, a level of those terms, but I really love that funnel. One is the self deprecating, the yeah.

Scott McGrew: Human Nature isn’t it? To sort of say, you know, Jeez, excuse me, or I’m not going to take up much of your time, or let’s get right to it. You know, it’s, it takes the enthusiasm out of the room. You, you are the person at the podium. You need to, even if you don’t feel like it in your heart of hearts, it’s okay to fake it. But be the person who says, I’m in charge. This is going to be great. Let’s get to it. Everyone.

Victor Ahipene: Yeah. And I think it’s the same kind of psychology that people go through when they have to ask for a sale of something. It’s like the ones that are horrible. Well, yeah. And uh, yeah, we’ve talked about all this stuff and you, if you’re interested you can buy. But if not that it’s all good because it was okay too. Right? Yeah. And it gives people this out of if I suck, if the person doesn’t buy or if our stats right. It’s all right cause I see it. I won’t be up here for long or that I’m really nervous or whatever. I never ever want to compliment when I come off stage. Oh, you’re great. You didn’t look nervous at all. Like I want to, you were great. You know, I don’t want to have to just be that true. Yeah. I don’t want this to a bay up on stage guy. Hey, I’m really nervous guys. And um, you know, so let’s get this. And then people go, oh no, you didn’t seem that nervous up there. You’re fine. I want, you know, you’re a great host or you’re funny or you know, you’re really impactful, whatever it may be when you get on stage. But I think the other thing is, yeah, knowing your role, staying in your lane and having it nicely clear cut prior to doing it. Yeah. I you in control of getting people on and off stage in the precisely right is as important because that’s going to change your stress levels, uh, beforehand. If you don’t know if that’s your role. Yeah. Oh my God, this person’s gone for 45 minutes. I mean, to give 30.

Scott McGrew: Well, and if you’re, if you’re presenting at a sales conference or you’re presenting at a local community thing, oftentimes the person who organized the event is not that experienced at how this is all going to work. And so if somebody says, you know, we’re going to have an event from 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM and I have six speakers, you think, oh no, this thing’s going to last forever. You know, who’s it? Everybody’s going to talk for way longer than they should. Who’s in charge of shutting it down and moving on. Is that me as an MC, which is what that means after all or am I just a host and one of the speakers?

Victor Ahipene: Hmm. That’s very, very good points. And I think there’s a lot that we’ve dived into for different spaces. I mean some people were going to get some value. Yeah. May have aspirations to be on television or do some more things to get comfortable behind the camera, which I think is a super important point. And then we’ve got the MC side of things and as well as how to ask better questions, which I think out of everything goes super important. Whether you’re creating content or you’re just trying to have a bit of life in us, bit of questions, uh, as something that we can, we can all hunter away for. So I thank you a lot for that, Scott. If we, we, we know that people can go and check out your interview , show it, press here, if people want to get in contact with you or even find out about your podcast, where can they go? And what can they do?

Scott McGrew: I’m delighted you asked. You can email me directly. It’s [email protected] and McGrew is MCGREW. My podcast is called Sand Hill road and you’ve been podcasting a long time and I really enjoy listening to your podcast, but I’m brand new ed and so I would really appreciate your listeners tuning in and searching sand hill road and as we go, I’ll just explain that sand hill road is the name of the, the the avenue in which all the venture capital firms in silicon valley, since it’s a bit like a Wall Street or a Hollywood, it’s just one of those words that in northern California, in silicon, when you say sand hill road, you know, it means a technology startups.

Victor Ahipene: now as well We never and jumps over there. You might as well give us both the writing and or a view and let us know what you think of our shows and we’ll link every a way to get in touch with Scott and listen to his show at look, Scott, thank you so much and welcome to our speaking nation family. It’s been an absolute pleasure and I really enjoyed diving into your whirlpool of knowledge and being able to share it with everybody else.

Scott McGrew: A pleasure for me as well. Victor.