I used to be nervous during podcast interviews.

Well, it wasn't the interview... so much as the beginning of the interview.

You know, that part in every show where the host kicks off the show by asking:

"Why don't you tell us who you are and what you do?"

Or as I hear it...

"Why don't you start by giving us your full life history in a perfectly written story and then tell us specifically why you have enough value to be on this very podcast in the first place?"

This question comes up ofter at group dinners, conferences.

At this point, my lungs forget how to function and I found myself sharing too much or too little.

This got better after I realized that they weren't really asking about me.

Firstly, no one is really fact-checking my history, so it's not like I'm being graded on accuracy.

Second, the purpose of the show was to provide value for those listening. It had nothing to do with whether or not I made myself look good, or look bad, or whatever.

In fact sometimes making yourself look good, or look bad can both be a good strategy on purpose.

The host is asking because they wanted to help the audience get context for the discussion we were about to have.

The host is asking because it's the job of the podcast to provide useful or entertaining information to the audience.

The host is not asking for perfect response, but instead information to move forward.

Information can have its own momentum in that way.

It's difficult to start, but it's easier to build on as you keep going.

I learned this in Improv classes. When scenes open up, somebody has to jump on stage first and open the scene.

There's massive tension among the crew and the audience before that occurs.

Many of the first laughs are really just a breaking of that tension, as more cast members jump up to support.

And before you know it you are in a wildly different place with intricate details being developed with ease.

So it's all about getting started.

And it's all about sharing to help the audience rather than sharing for yourself.

And then you build on the information given, no matter how small.

You can start small.

One thing I do is I start by saying "thank you."

I thank the host.

Or if I'm interviewing someone, I'll thank them, for showing up or for doing what they do.

Somehow this shifts the spotlight and it gets the information moving. It reminds me of what I'm there to do, and to not be so selfishly-self-conscious.

One thing to consider is your OWN strategies.

What strategies have you employed when being asked about what you do (for better or worse)?

How this strategy helped or hurt your ability to communicate well?

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