If only we could capture this lightning in a bottle and take it with us into the dark and sterile studio, where remarks must be recorded in front of a bright light and a video camera (and an anxious speechwriter or public affairs official or two) for future broadcasting.
Of course, we can’t. And we shouldn’t underestimate the profound differences between these occasions. Before a public speech, there is an opportunity to acclimatize—to psych up before going out on stage. By traveling to a venue, doing an advanced meet-and-greet with members of the audience, waiting in a green room, or even standing in the wings on stage, various psychological and physical thresholds prepare the speaker (consciously or unconsciously) for the main event.
None of that transpires before a recording session. Often, a busy executive is simply escorted to a media center, plopped down in a chair, and subject to an adjustment in lighting and sound levels. Then after a brief and often halfhearted run-through, it’s boom, roll the prompter and start recording.
Is it any wonder that the recorded result is often stilted, forced, and just plain dull? That the speaker sounds weirdly divorced from the message, even if it’s near and dear to his or her heart?
We need to find some work-arounds to avoid memorializing a coma.