Back in my talk radio days I would often get requests from people who wanted to fill in when a talk jock went on vacation. The popular wisdom was that you walked into the studio, turned the microphone on, and magic would happen. Their mind’s eye painted a picture where they would say something, anything really, and the phone lines would be jammed. The would be talk host would then engage in repartee with the callers for hours.
As a disc jockey I was once confronted, and I mean confronted, by a guy in the lobby of the radio station. He said his friends told him he was ‘really funny’ thus making him perfect to host morning drive. I wanted to tell him that was my job, but he repeatedly told me how funny he was. While I could not judge his comedic ability, his intellectual level was easily discerned. He didn’t have the sticking power to make a decent control board operator.
Both the aspiring talk hosts and Mister Funny shared a point of view which I find all to common. They believe that if something looks easy, it is easy. All a talk host does is talk. Anyone with a mouth can do that. A morning radio host just has to be funny. Hey, if I really get them roaring in the breakroom, my ticket is punched for radio stardom!
This is not just a radio phenomenon. I know someone who trains hundreds of people and coworkers think a new training can be whipped up with an hour’s notice. I’ve done business presentations and people have asked me for my PowerPoint so they can rip it off and do the presentation themselves (they are almost all images..good luck!). It looked easy! Anyone can do it!
I enjoyed watching the faces of wannabe talk hosts when they kept staring at the phone with an unlit bank of lines. Beads of sweat on the brow, a deflating confidence level leaching into their voice. They did not even know to bait the conversational hook. Now they were starving. The same goes for the PowerPointer who stands before me reading ten lines of text on their slide, word for boring word. Inevitably they follow it up with the chart nobody can read. Expert? Preparation?
So here is to the people who do the work. The people who know that making it look easy is hard. These are the people who do the research, when it’s done they keep looking for new information and techniques to improve whatever it is they are doing. These are the people who think about their craft in the shower. They talk to themselves about it when they are alone in the car. They drive themselves to improve. They are the worker bee. To them goes the honey.