When the call came from CBS This Morning to come discuss two new anthropological papers on the origins of monogamy, my first concern naturally was to make sure I didn’t say anything embarrassing on national TV.
So I decided to make detailed notes as a precautionary measure. But I learned that on TV this isn’t such a good idea — especially if you’re so busy re-reading your notes for the 401st time that you don’t even look up when they announce your name. Hey, who knew?
I also learned you have to talk a little faster on TV. OK, a lot faster. As a doctor, you learn to weigh your words carefully, and you want to make sure everything you say is understood. But TV is more like being at home with the family — you can start talking, but unless you keep it lively you may not get to finish!
Turns out that Oprah, who’d been on the show that morning to discuss her new movie The Butler, had been intrigued by my topic (Hey, who wouldn’t be!) and had asked to stay longer to hear about human monogamy. So as an unexpected bonus I got media training from Oprah herself . . .
I’d been on the show for about three minutes (it had felt like about 2 seconds) and was just starting to feel comfortable in front of 3 million people when I was told we were out of time. Sheesh — I’d hardly gotten warmed up! Oprah turned to me a little exasperated and said, “Doctor Snyder, this is TV! You’ve got to keep it moving!”
OK, now I think I got it. Ditch the notes. Don’t look down. And keep it moving. Next time I’ll be ready!
But it was a lot of fun. And I got a CBS This Morning mug, which my daughter immediately claimed as her own.
I also got to spend time learning about some new computational approaches to the study of human origins. Great stuff that I hope to share with you in future articles.
I thank CBS This Morning anchors Gayle King, Nora O’Donnell, and Charlie Rose for the opportunity to discuss some exciting research on human monogamy. And of course Oprah herself for the media coaching.
Next time, if anyone asks, I’ll be able to say I learned from the best!
Stay tuned next time for more on the curious origins of human monogamy. (Hint: It’s not something that comes naturally for us.)
And I’ll try to keep it moving . . .