This week, hundreds of millions of Jeopardy! fans around the world, were saddened to hear that host Alex Trebek has been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

News of this nature is devastating. Sharing this kind of news can as be agonizing for the patient as it is to hear for the listener.

Which is why Mr. Trebek’s announcement over YouTube was so extraordinary.  He managed to deliver this message both eloquently and with an enthusiastic outlook that came across in several ways. Specifically:


  1. A sense of belonging: the news was the news of course, but he positioned it under his “long time policy of keeping things open and transparent ”. A philosophy to frame the news and in turn making his listeners appreciate they are part of his fan base and deserved to hear it from him.


  1. “Just like 50,000 other people…” Mr. Trebeck opens the sentence of announcing his diagnosis by relating it to a much larger community of people with the same condition. The contrast of “we” v “me” – always powerful, and especially here.


  1. Humor. Unbelievably, Mr. Trebek remarks near the end of his message, not only does he intend to beat cancer; he HAS TO, because his contract stipulates his hosting Jeopardy for three more years! Humor, tactfully delivered even in the midst of difficult news, is an art unto itself.

It’s a beautifully constructed and delivered one minute and thirteen seconds, and serves as a fine model for brief critical messages. You can watch it HERE.

Pulling for you to beat this monster, Alex Trebek.

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