June 9, 2022

How to Be a Communication and Conversation Rockstar with Jane Hanson

In today’s hybrid work world where we are sometimes working via Zoom, sometimes from work, and sometimes from our home basement, it is imperative that we are on top of our communication game so we can represent ourselves well, enhance our presence, and resonate with any audience we might be in front of. 

My special guest, Jane Hanson has spent over 30 years using the lessons she has learned in her broadcast journalism career to help people communicate better.  You will learn lots of communication tips from Jane in this episode, which is essentially a masterclass in speaking effectively.

You’re also going to hear how Jane came to New York three decades ago to join the NBC networks. She began as an anchor and correspondent for WNBC New York.  In 1988, Jane was named co-anchor of “Today in New York.”  Later, she became the station’s primary anchor for local programming and the host of “Jane’s New York.”  She covered events ranging from the tragedy of 9/11 to the joy of the Yankees’ victory parades to Wall Street and Washington; she has interviewed presidents, business magnates, prisoners, and celebrities and has won 9 Emmy awards as well.

• [7:08] “I was so curious about everything. And I think that's the key to being a good journalist, being curious and asking questions.”
• [9:31] Jane talks about the key to being a great communicator is to use your ears!
• [11:45] “...because doing Zoom, or Google Chrome or whatever we're using today, actually saves people a lot of time and money. We don't have to travel. We don't have to commute. We don't have to do a lot of things that cost us the most precious thing we have in our life, which is our time…”
• [16:45] Jane shares that the tone of your voice and the way that you are saying things makes a big difference.

For more information on the Make Time for Success podcast, visit: https://www.maketimeforsuccesspodcast.com

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Dr. Christine Li -
Website: https://www.procrastinationcoach.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/procrastinationcoach
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To work with Dr. Li on a weekly basis in her coaching and accountability program, please register for The Success Lab here: https://www.procrastinationcoach.com/lab

Guest Information
Jane Hanson -
Website: https://www.janehanson.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jane.hanson.129
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/janehansonofficial/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/janehansontv/


Christine Li  0:01  
You're listening to the Make Time for Success podcast and this is episode number 78. I'm so glad you're listening to this episode because it happens to be a masterclass in communication and presentation. My special guest, Jane Hanson is your master teacher. Jane has spent over 30 years using the lessons she's learned in her career in broadcast journalism, to help people communicate better. In today's work world where we're working sometimes from zoom. Sometimes from the workspace, sometimes from our home basement, it is imperative that we're on top of our communication game, so that we can represent ourselves well, we can enhance our presence. And we can resonate with any type of audience that we might be in front of. Jane focuses on three core elements, what you say, how you say it, and how your body language keeps it all in sync. You're going to hear how Jane came to New York three decades ago, to join the NBC networks. She began as an anchor and correspondent for WNBC, New York, and in 1988, Jane was named co anchor of today in New York. Later she became the nation's primary anchor for local programming and the host of Jane's New York. She covered events ranging from the tragedy of 911 to the joy of Yankees victory parades to Wall Street, and Washington to she has interviewed presidents, business magnets, prisoners and celebrities, and has won nine Emmy Awards in the process. Jane is not only a great communicator, she is a fun person to be with and to talk with. Let's go learn from this rockstar together now.

Hi, I'm Dr. Christine Li, and I'm a psychologist and a procrastination coach. I've helped 1000s of people move past procrastination and overwhelm so they can begin working to their potential. In this podcast, you're going to learn a powerful strategies for getting your mind, body and energy to work together so that you can focus on what's really important, and accomplish the goals you want to achieve. When you start living within your full power, you're going to see how being productive can be easy, and how you can create success on demand. 

Welcome to the Make Time for Success podcast. Hi, dear friends, it's Dr. Christine Li, I want to thank you for being here on the Make Time for Success podcast. Today I want to introduce to you someone who I admire, I adore and I truly think is a rock star. I tend to use the word Rockstar a lot. But in Jane Hanson's case, that term really applies. So Jane is a media presentation and communications expert. She's here to teach us so much about communication in the current age, the age, structured by COVID concerns and the changing workplace. And I want to welcome you to the show. Jane, thank you so much for being here.

Jane Hanson  3:29  
It's great to see you again. We of course met during COVID on Instagram Live, I believe. And it's been fun to continue to to keep up with you. Even though I might procrastinate on getting to you at times. No.

Christine Li  3:43  
No, Jane is actually someone who does things really properly. She's a true professional. That's why I call her a rock star. And I just want our audience to know you more, because I grew up watching you on the television growing up in New York. And so I consider you a total celebrity in my heart and memory. And could you share with us some of your anchor pasts and what you've been doing before these days?

Jane Hanson  4:12  
Sure, of course. So I was very, very lucky. I grew up in a little teeny tiny town in rural Minnesota. And if you know the show Little House on the Prairie, that town, Walnut Grove, Minnesota was about 30-40 miles from my hometown. And so think about that prairie and that's where I grew up. I didn't grew up in a wagon train or Asad hut, but it was a teeny tiny town that had we didn't have a stoplight. We had a four way stop in the center of town. And my goal when I was even a little girl was I wanted to be a journalist and I wanted to go see the world and I wanted to explore it and have asked a lot of questions and meet a lot of people encouraged by my father who was quite wonderful in that way. And so I very quickly when I graduated from college with a degree in broadcasting journalism. I got a job at NBC in New York. And it could not have been more fun. And I was in my early 20s. We like to call it the golden age of television and television news. We had an amazing time. And you know that song. If you can make it there any New York, you can make it anywhere. Yes, it was exactly how I felt. I just covered a variety of things. I anchored the weekend news first and I anchored a morning newscast called today in New York. I was on the Today Show, doing news and things on pieces and stuff as well. Then, I had a show of my own, which we call Jane to New York. I also always bristled at the title because I thought it was so like, bizarre and braggart. But that was their choice. So. And then. And then more recently, I did a show called New York live, which was really celebrity driven. So I went from really hard news to a celebrity driven lifestyle show. And in the middle, I had this opportunity to travel the world. With my own program, I went to the Gobi Desert of Mongolia on a dinosaur dig and I went across the ocean on the QM two and I went to Ireland to talk about what do you do besides play golf there. And just I just had a variety of amazing adventures, and many of them also in New York City itself, like underground, New York, what happened to way below ground and what's above New York and, you know, the waterways, and we didn't think about dogs in New York. It was it was, it was so much fun. So I had a really marvelous and beautiful and fantastic career, and I feel very grateful for that opportunity. Well,

Christine Li  6:42  
we are grateful that you found your path into your zone of genius, and that you had such an illustrious career and that it was so much fun, and that you're so fun in it. I want to ask you, I didn't prepare you for this part of the interview, I want to ask you, how did you know you wanted to do journalism? You said as a little girl, you knew I'm wondering, what was it that worked for you?

Jane Hanson  7:08  
I think it was curiosity. I was so curious about everything. And and I think that's the key to being a good journalist, being curious and asking questions. I mean, I was one of those kids that was always saying, Why? Why? Tell me why. So it's the combination of that and knowing that it was the kind of profession that would allow me to see the world. And so it's those two things my dad used to read. He used to read the newspaper to me when I was really little, and we talk about, you know, world events, however you talk about them with a child. And so it just wetted that curiosity even more. And I think when you grow up in a little tiny place in the middle of nowhere, you kind of feel this, at least I did feel this kind of quest to see what else is out there. You know, you never know, I might have gotten out there and said, No, I think I'm going home. But I didn't. And I really loved it. So journalism is a really interesting and fantastic career for people, because you're always in the middle of the action. Every single day, I saw history being made before my eyes. And there is nothing that is more, I think, interesting than that. So that's why I loved it very much.

Christine Li  8:25  
That's terrific. Actually, I remember when you were interviewing me a few years back for tone networks, that you are fantastic. In the moment that I remembered, I was supposed to keep track of my own thoughts. But I was really marveling at how your brain was working, when the camera was on and how you were creating new conversation and how you were right on the subject all the time, right on the money, your timing was perfect. And I just want to help me and other people listening to get a little bit of what you know about communicating in this way, being really focused, being really prepared being really sharp. And I want to have you explain what has been happening in the field of communication and work recently. So that's a lot of questions. But I want to know what you can teach us and also how you think the current workspace might need these skills, these extra communication skills. Well,

Jane Hanson  9:31  
I think he probably needs it more than ever. The key to being a good interviewer. And the key to I think being a great communicator is using your ears. Because we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Right? So listening, because, you know, I challenge people out there to do this. Go listen to an interview, and you will know who's really on target and who's really not or even a car conversation, because somebody who's just following a set of questions, doesn't pick up on what the person said. And so they they just go with their next question. Instead of saying, wait a minute, did you just say blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, or I don't understand. Explain that further. So being a good listener is the key to being a great communicator. Too many people just can't wait to get their thoughts in, and they almost jump in right away. But we have to truly learn to listen to one another, and the world would be a better place, I will tell you that. So the first thing to great communication is to listen really well. The second thing is to take a pause now, and then you're not afraid of dead air, you're not afraid of having a little space that opens up in the conversation. Because when you do that, it allows everybody to kind of feel this. And also, it makes you seem like the strong, like a strong leader, it's a, it's a real key to lead to good leadership is to be able to pause, listen, take a break, let stuff sink in. So I love all of that. I do a lot of work these days with helping people understand this kind of hybrid work situation that we're in. And I don't think it's going to change, I've been doing a lot of in person work and a lot of work over zoom. And I do a mixture of some with clients, I will do you know, in particular, the the in person or the zoom with others, I think we're going to continue to have a mix of that. One of the reasons why is because doing zoom, or Google Chrome or whatever we're using today, it actually saves people a lot of time and money. We don't have to travel, we don't have to commute, we don't have to do a lot of things that cost us the most precious thing we have in our life, probably which is our time. If we can use that time wisely, we can do other things that really make our life well rounded. So I don't think we're ever going to completely go back to that old thing that we had, which was going to the office, working nine hours, spending an hour getting home or two or however much and all that. But I do worry that we are spending more time working because we never seem to have a break from the computer. That's just the way it is. And I know that you're doing that, too. So with this hybrid communication, we have to be different when we're using our laptop and the camera than we are when we're in person. Here, we need to amplify the energy. And we also need to be quicker. And what do I mean by that? If I'm training somebody, usually I would do, let's say a half day session with a new client, I am not doing a half day session on Zoom, because there is nobody that's going to sit still for three and a half or four hours, right. So now like split it into two hours, or maybe three, three separate sessions or something. So we have to be very conscious of what we're asking people to do. I also think we have to be much, much, much clearer than when we set up these these remotes or these virtual things. I think we have to have agendas. We have to have set expectations. We have to make sure everybody is involved in the conversation. So if he truly interactive, you have to force people. I mean, how many of these have you been on? And I ask everybody who's listening, where somebody will put their camera on? Right? They won't put the camera on? When I do that I say cameras on? We're not talking English, which camera on? Why? Because then I at least feel like I'm able to observe somebody, or at least I can bring them more into the conversation. So I think it's important that we do that. So there's all kinds of tricks to making it effective.

Christine Li  14:08  
These are fantastic. I knew you were gonna teach. But these are really fantastic tips. I have some follow up questions. One is about we need to listen. And I feel like I am as an interviewer, someone who I would love to be someone who follows up and says, Well, let's go a little deeper, but I tend to do well the next question that's on my mind. And I think what I might be missing is a little bit of confidence. I do feel like I might run that other direction because of anxiety. So I'm wondering if you have any thoughts about how to just make that anxiety go away, make it a little smaller or quieter?

Jane Hanson  14:54  
Well, I think you need to be bold and being bold means taking chances. Some of the best interviews I've ever done, have had at their core, me saying, Well, you know, in, in journalism, you have the five W's and the age who, what, when, where, why, and how? Sometimes very best answers I would ever get is when I'd say why? Or how. It's not a long question. And when you get caught in the moment, I'll tell you, what happens is the interviewee. Immediately, they answer it, and they answer it almost, maybe more heartfelt, or honestly than you suspect, because you're not giving them the time to really think about anything else. So those are great questions. And the best interviews really are the ones where you take a chance. If it doesn't work, then it didn't work.

Christine Li  15:59  
Right. I think the anxiety just sometimes covers everything. So but what you said about the fact that the person you're interviewing doesn't have enough time to really think about it, but then you get the truer response is a beautiful insight. So thank you for that. I would never have thought of that. And that's very much true. I think. My other thought is that as a psychologist, we're trained not to ask the question, why? Because it is in the therapy context seen as potentially accusatory. But it's such a fantastic question for regular life, and for podcast interviews, and general interviews, because it's really saying, Tell me more in general conversation,

Jane Hanson  16:45  
instead of saying, why then say, Tell me more? Yeah. And it's also about the tone in which you say it. If you say why they're gonna get defensive. If you say, Huh, why inquisitively if he said, or if it's just a gentle? Why. So think about the tone of your voice in the way that you're saying it? Because that makes a big difference as well. Beautiful,

Christine Li  17:14  
more master lessons here. Okay, great. I'm moving on to let's say, the second tip was, don't be afraid of the blank space. A lot of people are really terrified of blank space. Silence. I think maybe even having the the mind drift off. You know, you're in a pressured situation, maybe maybe you're presenting to the staff or your boss. And I guess, do you have any suggestions for holding that space, while also being in this pressured situation where you feel like you need to perform at a certain level?

Jane Hanson  17:55  
Well, when you're under pressure, one of the first things that happen is we start to talk faster. And we speed up, that's what anxiety and nerves do to us. So all of a sudden, we're saying, Well, let me tell you about this question. Because here's what's really, really important, here's what you will. Now you're not only not hearing a word, I'm saying but you're thinking, What's wrong with her. So you have to fight that battle of the anxiety making you want to speed up. So in order to stop speeding up, the truth is you want to slow down and what slows you down, by taking a breath by taking a pause. And taking a pause can also mean that you're thoughtful, and again, brave. Because it's brave to dare to have that blank space. Now, look, in your therapy, how many times do you just sit there and wait for your patient to speak? And what happens? Do they speak?

Christine Li  18:56  
Sometimes? Not always. But sometimes, but you definitely need to get comfortable with the blank space with not filling all the time. It's not just the blank space, we have to hold back our natural, conversational back and forth ability, oftentimes in day to day therapy. So really, communication is tweaked on purpose, for healing so that the person gets to grow into their own voice as much as they need, right? They they've been injured, they've been afraid. They've been told not to speak sometimes. And it's really just having them grow into the space and their confidence and their voice. And that's the same process for the therapist in training. And in practice as well that we too are also figuring out okay, what's the right rhythm with whom, you know, you're going to act in a different way with different people. So right, you're making me see it is also are very much communication art based that it is Minute to Minute sometimes how you tweak things makes all the difference. Yeah.

Jane Hanson  20:11  
And you know that same thing is true in an interview too. Obviously, it's almost the other side of the coin for you in the way that. So for you, it's even. It's a, it's a different place to be doing these kinds of interviews rather than being in your therapy. Yeah. So it's, it's kind of counterintuitive to what you've been learned. But you've been taught,

Christine Li  20:32  
yes, I thought it would be a smooth transition. And I realized very quickly that I was going to have to learn a whole new set of skills. It's not completely, it's not Mars and Venus, but it was a learning curve for me. Absolutely. Thank you so much for your insights there.

Jane Hanson  20:50  
It's, it's really, it's interesting to think about all that, because I love the pausing technique. It truly, truly can make people seem far more statesmen like or like leaders, because that's what they do.

Christine Li  21:06  
Yes. Can I ask a kind of personal career question, professional question, and that is, what areas of anxiety did you have to overcome? In terms of your speaking voice in terms of showing up in terms of being bold? What comes to mind?

Jane Hanson  21:25  
Well, I think when, when anybody begins a career, it takes them some some time and space to really fall into it. And I while I wanted to be a journalist, being a broadcast journalist, and never really entered my mind, I thought that perhaps I would be in the in the magazine world and do long form features. That was something I wanted to do. And when I got to college, my advisor suggested that I try broadcasting, and at first, I was very put off by that thinking, No, I don't want to do that. And then all of a sudden, one day, I realized that it was a place where I'd get a lot more exposure, and probably make a lot more money. And so that's why I said, Okay, I'm gonna, I'm gonna do it. And then I found myself having a love affair with the camera. And since I got out of college, I don't think I've ever met a camera, I don't. But I had to learn how to use it appropriately. And in my very first days in television, because I was young, my voice was like a little kids and all this stuff, I had to work on it. When I got my job at NBC in New York, I walk in the door, and I moved there from a television station in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which is a pretty big jump. Yes. And I got there. And my boss, the news director handed me a bunch of cards. One was for a hairstylist, one was for a makeup artist, one was for a clothing, stylist, and one was for a voice coach. And I went once all of this, I thought you liked me like I am. And he said, Well, for one thing, we got to get rid of those, those flat A's and those drop Diane G's that you have from the Midwest. And so I did go to a voice coach at first. And her work with me was really truly about getting rid of some of that. But it made me anxious and nervous to the point where when I would do narration for my stories, and I'd be in the audio booth, I would have to do something over time and time and time again, because I kept thinking, I'm saying this wrong. I'm saying this wrong. I'm saying this wrong. And the truth was no way that I said it was wrong, but I wanted it to be perfect. I also think that I've done a lot of studying of our body language under voice. And one of the things about voices is that we give more credibility to lower pitched voices, we just do. So that's why you have it look at commercials, television commercials, for example. You always hear the man with a very deep voice. And you think of it like melted chocolate or bourbon or something like that. So women come in naturally with a disadvantage because their voices are never that low. I think that women should try to use the lower pitch of their voice if they can, because you can gain credibility by that. People will notice you more, and they will listen to you more. You also should learn about how to project properly. I think that's something good for your audience to think about. And then to vary your voice to have so that it's not just like this making the same sounds all the time. Or if you think about it. If you're in a monotone think about what a monotone is. It's like a straight line in a hospital was what is the straight line mean? your dad, your dad stuff. So you don't want to have a monotone either because people tune you out. So our voices are like musical instruments. And we can do so much more with them than we do. I always encourage people to try it, you know, practice, one of the great things that we have today, one of the best tools are our phones, because we can record ourselves. And you can record yourself just, if you're making a presentation, or if you've got to make an appeal to you know, the boss or something, practice it on your phone, and then play it back and listen to it. You'll be surprised how it sounds, you might not like it very much, in which case, try it again, and keep trying it. And you can improve it on your own. And then you'll be surprised at how much that will help you.

Christine Li  25:52  
Beautiful. For those people who are listening and who are interested in getting practice not alone with their phone. Can you describe the current business that you are engaged in now the kind of work you're doing with clients, and maybe give a teaser as to what people could get when they seek you out as a coach? Oh, sure.

Jane Hanson  26:17  
So I am a presentation and media and video coach. And I work with clients too, I work with them in a number of different ways. Let's just say that they've got a big presentation or project coming up. And they're going to have to speak in front of a speak to a larger group, whether it be virtual or in person, I help them prepare for that I go so far as to actually help them create the messaging. So that it's very clear and succinct, because one of the things that you learn in the television news business, is you have to take a mountain of information and turn it into a moat, you can only use a molehill of it in that very short period of time. So I'm very good at that kind of editing, but also making those key messages standout. So I do that for presentations. And people who just simply want to become a better speaker that they feel like in meetings, they're not, they're not speaking up enough, or they would they want to enhance their career because everybody loves great communication. I also work with people who are maybe about to launch a project that may read or write a book or whatever they've done, where they might actually be in the media. And so I then help them prepare for media questions in interviews. I've done hundreds of 1000s of interviews in my lifetime. So I can certainly help them prepare for it. And then the other thing is, I help people who want to do videos, because 87% of the people surveyed in today's world say that they learn and use videos the most, for how to get educated about something. And so, videos, I think are essential for almost anybody, no matter what your line of work is to do. And I can help you do, the better. So and I work, everything is customized. I work in short periods of time and work in long periods of time I work in person, I work all over the globe, or I might work from my living room. So it really depends on what people want and what their budget is and how committed they are to it. The more they do, the better they're going to be.

Christine Li  28:21  
Yeah, I think working with you from a while ago, I learned the the benefits of practice of really investing in your work preparation. Because I know that you know, in your line of work, you don't just show up, you don't just show up with your natural talents, you've got everything thought out, and you've got ideas, and you've got your experience all put together. And that it comes out beautifully on screen. And I think that's probably what you're teaching people to get into that zone of let's invest in you and your skills, so that you can shine on screen.

Jane Hanson  29:01  
You know, it's so much fun when I worked with like, like, let's just say I'm working with a client from a company. And at first they're like, What do you mean, I'm I'm doing presentation training or media training, don't they think I'm good enough. And I say, here's the way you need to look at it. This company wants to put you in the limelight. They want to promote you in a way that they're not doing for other people. They're investing in your development, I would consider it to be an honor. And even if let's say you hate your job and you're looking for a new one, and somebody says we want to do this for you do it because it'll help you get your next job. I also help people who are looking for new work so that they can present themselves better when they're in interviews. I help the young man recently get into Harvard. Five working with him. I mean, it's just anybody can learn how to communicate better including me because I'm constantly trying to up my game.

Christine Li  30:00  
I love it. And I'm going to back everything that Jane has said today, especially the last part, which is that we can all benefit from additional work and additional improvement. I'm going to add my own piece as a psychologist that any work that you do to invest in yourself, it really just opens up other pathways for personal growth in ways that you don't expect when you think about it. If you learn how to show up more boldly at work, what is that going to open up for you at home, or maybe you get more opportunities, maybe your work is just easier because you've communicated more clearly and more authoritatively. It's just a ripple effect all over the place.

Jane Hanson  30:45  
And it's wonderful. That is so true. I can't tell you how much having that philosophy has helped me in my life. And especially in today's world, we've all been through so much. In the last couple of years, the need to connect with people. And the need to do it well has never been more important. And the need to be vulnerable and to be authentic, and to put yourself out there. I'm telling you, it will reap you amazing rewards. And I'm not just talking about money I'm talking about. It'll enhance your life in ways you never believed possible.

Christine Li  31:29  
I'm getting chills. And I also have loved this interview. Jane, this is one of my favorite interviews of the podcast. So thank you so much for being the bright light and the rock star. And my friend. So thank you so much for being here and sharing so generously all of these wonderful tips, could you please let us know the best way to stay in touch with you? And you're going to do?

Jane Hanson  31:53  
Well, you can find me at my website, which is Jane Hanson h a n s o n.com. And my email is very simple. It's Jane@janehanson.com. Okay, so there you go. Terrific. I tried to make it easy.

Christine Li  32:09  
Yes, absolutely. Are there any final words or reflections that you'd want to end this interview with?

Jane Hanson  32:16  
Just simply that I encourage everybody to take a look at how they communicate. Think about it. And think about this one little thing a day that you could do to make it better? Whatever it is, if it's just maybe a thank you, or maybe a How are you today? Or just listening to somebody and really trying to keep those doorways open consistently. Because I'm telling you, it's worth it.

Christine Li  32:50  
I love it. I love it. Thank you, Jane. I know I'm going to work on asking more why questions in my interviews. Thank you for that lesson. And thank you for sharing so generously.

Jane Hanson  33:00  
Today. Very welcome. It's wonderful to see you again.

Christine Li  33:03  
Same same virtual hug here. You got it. All right, everyone. That's a wrap here. Thanks again to Jane Hanson, and please find her at her website and on the web. And I look forward to seeing you here next week on the make time for Success Show. Take care. 

Thank you for listening to this episode of the Make Time for Success podcast. If you enjoyed what you've heard, you can subscribe to make sure you get notified of upcoming episodes. You can also visit our website maketimeforsuccesspodcast.com for past episodes, show notes and all the resources we mentioned on the show. Feel free to connect with me over on Instagram too. You can find me there under the name procrastination coach. Send me a DM and let me know what your thoughts are about the episodes. You've been listening to and let me know any topics that you might like me to talk about on the show. I'd love to hear all about how you're making time for success. We'll talk to you soon

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Jane HansonProfile Photo

Jane Hanson

Emmy award winning television journalist and coach Jane Hanson has spent over 30 years helping people communicate better. Not only does it enhance their presence, and ensure they resonate with every type of audience, but in today’s fast paced world, it is imperative to be on one’s game 24/7. Hanson focuses on three core elements: what you say, how you say it, and how your body language keeps it all in sync.