On August 18th-20th, we had our very first event called Lights Camera Expert LIVE! We are beyond grateful to have finally laid eyes (sans screen) on some of our amazing students from our course. Participants flew into Manhattan from all over the country for a weekend jam-packed with media training, brand excavation, pitch development, and networking.

We kicked things off Friday night with a delicious dinner at Urban Fare, where participants got to network with producers, editors, and established media experts. Then, Saturday and Sunday were packed to the gills with workshops, seminars, and on-camera interview training.

Though we may have technically been the teachers, we learned a lot from our students over the weekend:

1. Your expertise doesn’t lead—you do.

Saturday afternoon, Terri led a seminar on storytelling—how to set the scene, pull from all five senses, and plop your audience into the moment you’re sharing. It’s easy to get bogged down in the how and what of your mission, but as we dug into each student’s origin story, we reconnected to who they really are and why they do what they do.

As each student shared, each of us became invested in their mission on a much deeper, more personal level. It became clear that when you lead with your story and your passion—and lean into the power of your vulnerability—your audience can’t help but connect with you (and root for your success).

2. You are a secret pitch machine (yes, you!)

Believe us: There is no subject too dry, no niche too narrow. By following Paula’s Anatomy of the Pitch, we saw how thinking outside the box can produce limitless ideas for content. First, each student brainstormed possible topics and angles. Paula walked them through what is most likely to catch a producer’s eye. We zoomed in on one angle and gathered all of the possible talking points and, most importantly, audience takeaways. In the process, not only did every student come away with a ready-to-send pitch, they generated a long list of potential pitches that have already been crowdsourced.

A lot of people think that by getting too specific, they’ll lose something in the process. But this weekend, we were blown away by how many new pitch ideas were generated when students committed to going deep on one idea. Getting specific about one thing doesn’t discard other possibilities—it sheds a brighter light on all of them.

3. Don’t pitch your expertise—sell the transformation.

Often, as experts, we get bogged down in selling the features and facts (because we love our facts)! Our passion for a particular subject leads us to believe that it should be the focal point. But our Avengers Team of expert students this weekend came from a multitude of backgrounds. And when they explained how they help people, as opposed to what they do, eyes around the room lit up. Questions poured out and ears perked up, no matter how unfamiliar the subject matter.

Bottom line: Not everyone cares about sleep studies, but everyone wants to feel well-rested. If you can tell us how to change our lives for the better, any subject is sexy! Your brand can be summed up in one fill-in-the-blank sentence: “I help (these kinds of people) to (benefit #1) and (benefit #2).” That’s it!

4. Your media career should boost your brand (not the other way around)

One of our students said, “Money makes a great servant and a terrible master.” The same goes for media. When we looked out at our group, we saw an encouraging variety of talents, voices, and strengths. Some of them have started their own podcasts and TV shows, while others are already heavy hitters on the radio circuit or getting published in major publications. It was refreshing to see how each student has made their media journey fit their needs, strengths, and vision.

There is no set, traditional media path! If your real strength is hosting the conversation, start a podcast. (We can help you do it! Email us at paula@paularizzo.com if you want to start one but don’t know where to start) If being the world’s best radio guest fits better than the Today Show, do it! You are launching a media career to aid your mission—not the other way around. Do what serves and the results will follow.

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