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This chapter is from the book

Baptism Under Fire

I, too, was once in the business of asking tough questions. Before becoming a presentation coach for those nearly 600 IPO road shows, as well as for thousands of other presentations ranging from raising private capital to launching products, seeking partnerships, and requisitioning budget approvals, I spent a decade as a news and public affairs producer at WCBS-TV in New York. As a student of the classical art of drama and with the full knowledge that conflict creates drama, I became an expert at asking challenging questions.

My baptism under fire came early in my tenure at CBS when I was assigned to be the Associate Producer of a documentary series called Eye on New York, whose host was the then recently hired Mike Wallace. Although 60 Minutes, Mike’s magnum opus, had not yet begun, he came to CBS largely on the strength of the reputation he had developed on another New York television station as an aggressive interrogator on a series called Night Beat. Mike had regularly bombarded his Night Beat guests with tough questions and was intent on maintaining his inquisitorial reputation at CBS. He fully expected his Associate Producer to provide him with live ammunition for his firepower. Heaven help me when I did not.

Fortunately, I survived Mike’s slings and arrows by learning how to devise tough questions. In the process, I also learned how to handle those same questions. This book is a compilation of those techniques, seasoned and battle-tested for 25 years in business with my corporate clients.

Expanding upon David Bellet’s observation, the objective of this book is not so much to show you how to respond with the right answers as it is to show you how to establish a positive perception with your audiences by giving them the confidence that you can manage adversity, stay the course, and stay in control.

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