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Don’t hang out in the lobby

Posted on 29 January 2013

Last week, I went to the Prince George auditions for the TV show Dragon’s Den to find out what people were pitching. I found five people with five good ideas. Every one of them was a good talker with a good story. What I did with this was not so good. Here’s what I produced:


I don’t hate it. It’s fine. But it could have been a lot better.

The mistake I made is putting five people in five minutes.

Using multiple voices is OK when you’re doing something like streeters, getting people’s quick reaction to a question or topic (here’s an example). In those cases, the star of the show is the question. The people are entertaining, but who they are and what motivates them isn’t the point. It’s getting a diversity of responses to an inherently interesting question.

But in other stories, whether pre-produced or live interview, the goal is to get inside the mind of someone else. Ask questions, get them to defend their point of view, but ultimately hear what they think and hopefully understand them better. A pet photographer. A guy who lived with grizzly bears. A mother-daughter swap shed team.

But in this one, I only scratched the surface. I got the who and the what, but basically skimmed over the why, which is the most interesting part. I was in a hurry to get to the next who and what.

If I could go back and do it again I would choose one person- any person- and spend more time with them. Find out how they were feeling. How many times they’d done this before. Gone into the audition with them, if possible. Then it might have felt like we actually went somewhere.

As it was, all I did was hang out in the lobby. And that’s what it sounds like.

If you like to read about me being hard on my work, you may also like Knowing Your Focus.

Filed under: CBC, journalism, radio

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