Be a Sponge: Get a Clue: 4 Surprising Lessons from Being on a Game Show | Darren LaCroix

Be a Sponge: Get a Clue: 4 Surprising Lessons from Being on a Game Show

By Darren LaCroix | Master Public Speaking

Are you a fan of TV game shows? Have you ever made light of a contestant who delivered a ridiculous answer to an easy question? They got the hard question right and missed that easy one! To you, the answer was obvious. But maybe it’s because you are relaxed, sitting in the comfort of your own home. 

I wondered what it would be like to be one of the competitors. Now, I have a clue. 

In the fall of 2019, I got an email from my friend, Mark Kamp. He asked me and two pastors from my church if we wanted to audition for a game show. A game show? There was a brand new game show filming in Las Vegas called “Get a Clue.” The host would be Rob Belushi, Jim Belushi’s son. (He is the one in the middle of the picture). We landed an audition via Skype the next week. Our goal was to have fun. We did; and a month later, we got a call saying we landed a spot on the show, along with a chance to win $10,000! Really? Wow. Cool. I was excited about the experience no matter what the outcome.

I knew this adventure would be fascinating. I learned a few things and was reminded of a few others as well. Here are 5 quick lessons to be learned:

  1. Choose Wisely

We are constantly making decisions all day long. Often, many of our decisions are made without truly knowing all of the consequences. If you know me, I’m a workaholic, passionate about helping people help people. I work long days and love it. My work is a lot of my fun. For me to take a half day away from my work to go to the audition and then go to a full 10-hour day for the filming, all with no phone or internet access, to take part in something with no guarantee of success…well, I had to think it through. 

First, this game was right for my skill set. If it was a trivia game, the answer is easy: NO.  That’s not my skill set, especially if means being under pressure. This game required a different skill set, that of giving and guessing clues. I envisioned being animated, and I knew improvisation skills were critical. That is my sweet spot! Any other type of game show, no. This one, yes. 

Second, it would give me time with great friends. They are talented, respected and fun. Because I’m an introvert, I know I need more friend time. I thought it through and realized this would be a fun experience even if we didn’t make the show. I knew if it was just the audition, it would be great; and I was in. Even if it was just the audition, I was in, ready for more fun in my life.

Do you choose wisely? We’ll never have all the information, but does it work for you, your life and your needs? It was not until after when I was reflecting that I realized it was a great decision no matter what the outcome.

  1. Your Training Time is Multiplied.

There is a reason for training; it matters. When we arrived on the backlot set, security met us, took our phones and led us to our dressing room trailer. The staff explained to us that first we would sit through a training about the game, practice on our own in our trailer, then play a few rounds of the game in front of some of the crew. Then we would be allowed to practice on our own, then play another round in front of the producers. There was no guarantee that we would even make it on to the game show set. Think about this: even playing the games in front of staff was part of our training. 

The basic structure and setup of this show is similar to Family Feud. Two teams set up in a V format and vie for the chance to compete against time for $10,000. Consider this: it is a brand-new game show, so no one has ever seen it played before. They had to train us to play a game we’ve never seen under big lights in front of a studio audience. That is a huge task. They only had a few hours to get us up to speed.

The number of teams being trained was overwhelming. I’m guessing there were about fifteen teams of four people. Think about that challenge, especially considering many of them dreaming of their “fifteen minutes of fame.” I was excited too, but some contestants were being diva-like and treating some of the crew like servants. Augh. Then the next day, they had to start all over again with a new batch of teams. I think they were filming a whole season over a timespan of a couple of weeks. 

Why do I think this is significant to mention? Think about the investment of the Game Show Network. They have a huge staff with tech crew, make-up artists, wardrobe consultants, never mind the people on the set! Even the studio audience needed training. Consider the investment in each moment and cost of each literal minute of filming. This is where the training is multiplied. Mistakes will still happen, but the number will be greatly reduced. The more people who know how it is played and the smoother it goes, the more episodes they can shoot in a day.

For you and I as presenters, consider the countless hours and investment that it takes an event planner to fill a room for the scheduled event at which you are a speaker. This is why they count on us being true professionals with the ability to handle every situation. All of your training matters, and it is literally an investment. Every moment you are on stage, it is multiplied by each audience member as well. Every keynote presentation you give is training under your belt for your next one. Training is multiplied.

  1. Comfort Counts.

We were competing against 4 women from a law firm. Their team was made up of the executives and some younger staff members. When we walked on the set, I have to say, it was cool. It’s never as cool as it looks on camera, but cool, nonetheless. The lights were bright; and we were all perfectly lit.

I’m guessing this was a very new experience for these women, and they appeared nervous. In contrast, our team was made up of two pastors and two keynote speakers. Although we’d never been on a game show before, we had been on big stages, under bright lights, in front of audiences many times. We had a deeper level of comfort in this setting. People watching on their couch have even more comfort. That is often why it can be easier to watch a game show in the comfort of your own home and answer questions more easily.

I think this was an advantage I had when competing in the World Championship. I had been doing standup for nine years. Blinding lights along with an invisible audience was a setting more familiar to me than to most other competitors. Being present in challenging situations allows you to think and decide better on your feet. This is related to the second point above. Training creates comfort. My standup was training for my keynoting and contest speech. My contest speeches were training for future keynotes and this game show. Training matters. Get more. Get comfortable with the setting in which you will perform. How? Any way you can. It all adds up. Keep adding.

  1. It’s Much More than a Name.

When Mark originally submitted our group for the audition, he chose the name for our group: The God Rockers. “Rockstar” is part of Mark’s keynote speaking business brand, and it’s where his heart is. When we showed up on the day of the filming we found out the producers changed the name of our group. I can’t even remember the new name they gave us, but we all thought it was a bit too cheesy.

We actually went back and forth with a member of the crew who brought our alternate name suggestions to the producers. It was almost comical because it was hours of back and forth. At one point we even thought about changing over to our common bond as speakers rather than church. We then found out that one of the reasons they choose us from the audition was because of our church bond. We then surmised that part of the reason the name was so important was to get people to watch. On TV, channel surfers will stop and root for a team they can relate to. They want names that are clear as to who the group is and what the members are about. Why? So people stop and watch. Hmmm. Marketing.

It reminded me of Erin Gargan King’s advice on social media to have a goal of a headline to stop the scroll. Same thing. Rooting equals viewers…viewers who will watch commercials. The name that we settled for was Faithful Friends. We didn’t love it, but it was their show.

Did we win the $10,000?

Yes. The show aired January 14th at 4PM on the Game Show Network. I’m not sure when the reruns will play. 

This was the cool part: the producers loved the fact that part of the winnings would go to our church to help with a local community project. Yep, marketing and good will for the game show.

If you want to get paid to speak, you are a competitor. However, the game is different. You don’t compete under the lights in front of the audience. You compete for the privilege to deliver your message under the lights to the audience. You are actually competing every day off-stage in your office when you do the work it takes to get ON stage. What would people at home on their couch watching a video of you in your office say? Would they see you doing that work? Would they root for you? Would they think you had a chance to win a booking?


What do you take from this?


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