At the fresh young age of 55, I’ve finally decided what I want to do when I grow up. Now this revelation didn’t stem from a career counselor and it didn’t take a psychometric test to work out. I just know I’d be good at it. The understanding came from watching TV, and specifically the Australian election interviews on the nightly news.
Over the past year, I’ve been more and more aware that when a prominent person…let’s call them the ‘talent’, is interviewed on an issue of national importance, there’s often a gaggle of serious-looking types standing behind them and nodding whenever the ‘talent’ says something definite. I don’t know what this profession is called; yet for the sake of this article I’ll call them ‘Nodders’.
Now what attracts me to this profession is that it’s obviously well paid and has a definite purpose. It must be well paid because they are all dressed fairly nicely. Mind you, they may be naked from the waste down as I only ever see the top half.
The purpose of the profession is clear. The professional Nodder is there to give support to the ‘talent’ and stop any other scallywag trying to get into the frame behind them to make bunny ears or silly faces. Their mere physical presence ensures no would-be TV star (or ‘Chaser’ personality) ruins the interview. Simple.
The professional Nodder must also ensure they don’t in some way dominate the image and detract from the talent. This is very important. People with big noses for example, or those with facial scarring shouldn’t apply. Nor should people who are overly attractive.
They must be disciplined enough not to look straight into the camera, but fix on a spot just behind the talent’s earlobe. This denotes serious interest and full concentration, ensuring they don’t disastrously nod in the wrong places. Thankfully new workplace practice makes it simple to sack an inattentive Nodder.
Yet the Nodder’s role is more complex than that. There’s an area of study called Neuro-Linguistic Programming that basically looks at certain persuasion techniques and how to maximise their effectiveness. One technique, and one we’ve all subconsciously used at some time in our lives, is to nod positively when our desired option is being discussed, and shake our heads in disagreement when any other option is being considered. It’s like a sales person nodding positively when we try on a new suit or dress. The positive affirmations give us good feelings towards the clothes, especially when we are sitting on the fence and unsure of our decision.
The same theory works with the professional Nodder. If we are a little undecided about a point say, Tony Abbott is making, the enthusiasm of the professional Nodder may well tip us over the edge! And why stop at one Nodder when you can have a team? A few days ago the same Tony Abbott was interviewed with seven, yes, seven Nodders all bobbing in agreement with some very valid points that he was making. I didn’t think they were valid at the time, but with so many well-dressed folks behind him in agreement, I changed my mind.
Most political aspirants have enlisted the help of Nodders. Julia Gillard had five in an interview last week and even Bob Brown from the Greens had one. Joe Hockey can’t seem to find any, so I’m going to apply to him first.
As we gear up to elections on both a state and federal front, be prepared to see the professional Nodder more and more on our TV screens. I’m getting a team together now. Interested?