|Imagine walking straight off the street out of a bright, bustling day into a small, cold, dark, soundproof room. You sit down on a tall, awkward stool facing a large TV camera positioned three feet from your face. The only other person in this cave-like room is a man standing silently behind the camera. Through a transmitter crammed tightly into your ear canal you hear a voice, from somewhere out there in the world. But there are no other visual or auditory cues. Instantly your face, voice and thoughts are beamed around the world. You have to be succinct, clear, calm.
If the thought of appearing live on global television while fielding difficult and pointed questions you have not rehearsed, or perhaps haven't even had the chance to consider, seems utterly terrifying, you're not alone.
However, if you're William Schaffner, M.D., professor and chairman of Vanderbilt's Department of Preventive Medicine, responding to such a daunting task is just another day (or evening, or weekend) at the office. continued..
WRITTEN BY JOHN HOWSER
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DEAN DIXON