The BusinessWeek webcast, “Boosting Productivity through Virtual Collaboration,” was so much fun that I thought you’d like a bit of an inside peek. (FYI, the show is now live on the BusinessWeek site - register by clicking link here or in previous sentence and you're good to watch it.)
In short, it was extremely professionally done. I’ve been on a TV show or two in my time and this production was of equal quality to CNN, CNBC, NHK...
First the prep. Producer Alex Cohen (left) spoke at length with both Karen Sobel Lojeski and me, individually and together. We each provided Alex with material – in my case the webcast I did for American Management Association Association and a small slide set. Karen did the same.
From these background materials, Alex put together a deck for the show and wrote the script for Jim Ellis (right), Assistant Managing Editor at BusinessWeek, whom you’ve seen if you’ve turned on your TV in the past ten years and watched any kind of business report – he’s been on too many to recount.
NASDAQ (nice photo from AP's Rich Kareckas) is right in Times Square central, at the corner of 43rd and Broadway. Heavy, heavy security to get past the front desk – but heavily friendly as well and soon we were ushered into the green room, which of course was painted white.
There we underwent our transformations, Karen first, me second, and with the help of Courtney from Uptown Girl, we both were camera-ready in no time (well, an hour). If you’ve never been made up for TV, make sure you do it before your days end. Everyone looks glamorous with paint on their faces – and you just wish you could miniaturize Courtney for future use.
During make-up, people started pouring in – from BusinessWeek, Cisco, the multi-media vendor, and the janitorial service at NASDAQ (they were only there very briefly).
Next, we were taken onto the set, which is spectacular. The NASDAQ board is on the outside wall of the control room; Broadway is behind the anchor desk, with people walking by. I’m not certain that they could see in but there did seem to be people standing on the street, facing our direction.
Jim, Karen, and I were now all in our seats, the teleprompter was all set – and my phone rang. Giving credit where it’s due, the caller was Steve Wylie, who manages the Enterprise 2.0 conference. We’d been trying to connect for days so in true last-minute TV fashion I took Steve’s call and had to rush him off because, as you know, I was about to go on air. Made me feel very important. Alex told me to turn off my phone. Smart man.
Next we know, Jim, who had the earpiece thingie with the curly wire, was listening to James (last name?), the director, and suddenly is saying 30 seconds…5, 4, 3…And we’re on the air.
Not exactly. On the web, which those who’d linked in could watch in real-time, see the slides, and ask questions all at once.
With all the preparation behind us, we proceeded to do the show ad lib. I hate scripts (having used them, I can say honestly I do much better without them) which meant that as Jim’s questions came up, we answered them on the spot, passing the ball back and forth between Karen and me. Meanwhile, people were posting questions to the website, which also were coming at us.
Then, before we knew it, the 30 minutes had passed, the show was over, and we were back to the green room to answer more questions. Last I saw, there were 71 questions. Karen and I would yell out to each other – “I’m taking 53,” she said – and then we went about our typing. That went on for another 30 minutes and then it was time to celebrate.
We packed up, braved the cold - honestly, I lived in NY and had to walk to work every day from the West Village - Perry and West Fourth Street - to 18th and 5th (guess where I worked – if you know the intersection, it’s obvious: Barnes and Noble) – you know, a serious schlep and I’ve never been as cold as on this jaunt.
But…it was worth the walk. We ended up at John’s Pizzeria where we indulged in a great lunch of calamari, Caesar Salad, and three kinds of pizza. A wonderful time was had by all.
Thank you, BusinessWeek, thank you, Cisco, thank you, Alex and Jim, and thank you, Karen.