If you truly want to be a great air talent, be a Roomba. (Yes, the little robot vacuum cleaner.) Always be looking for “dust” – things you can do better, in radio terms. Be honest about your work. Listen to yourself like it’s someone else. What would your critique of that person be?
Team shows actually have an advantage, because everyone on the show can be on the lookout. If you trust each other and set egos aside, you can improve twice as fast!
In well over 20 years of coaching so far, I’ve worked with a lot of incredibly good air talents – some to refresh and regroup so they can STAY great; others to simply help them grow even more.
The flip side of that is working with people in the earliest stages of their careers. And it seems like the “newbies” all start with the same question, “What’s the secret?”
Here it is: be WORTH listening to. Whatever your subject matter is, whatever you say has to make some sort of impact. Not necessarily big, huge, dramatic impact. Simply being perceived as someone who’s actually talking to me, rather than just “a voice saying words.”
That sounds easy, but it’s a daunting task for a young talent. It’s not about your voice. It’s not about being “funny,” per se. It’s just about being PRESENT, in THIS moment, every time the mic opens. Every… single… time.
The minute you turn in a half-hearted effort, you deserve to lose listeners.
This may sound counterintuitive, but stories aren’t about what happened.
For our purposes as air talent, they’re about what we FELT about what happened. The Emotion is the core, and that’s the thing that connects with the listener.
If all you can bring to the table is just some comment with no real emotion attached to it, or just some stupid punch line, you’re not going to connect.
Focus FIRST on the Emotion. THEN put the story together.
One of the most powerful building blocks in becoming a great talent is not wasting words.
It’s kind of like learning to drive. On one side is the curb – saying TOO little, so nothing was said that made your Content “pop.” On the other side is the double yellow line – belaboring a subject where there’s nothing new left to say, but you’re still talking. That’s a head-on collision waiting to happen.
The cure: prep to where you get what you want to say down to the most concise form possible. Then just let it “breathe” a little when you do it on the air.
The Better Idea. That’s what always wins. Apple. Streaming. Social media.
As an air talent, limiting yourself to just trying to match the other guy, or just trying to do a decent job… well, that’s setting the bar too low.
What you should want to do is get better, get clearer on what you want to do, and get more proficient at doing it. Here are three easy steps toward getting better in just one month:
Step 1 – be able to tell someone, in detail, what your listener’s life is today. The more you know about the listener, the more relevant you can be. Relevance is ALWAYS the better idea.
Step 2 – do what the format allows, but make sure that you come across as a person, not just a voice. This is multi-layered, because we’re also voice actors, to a degree. Start with trying to sound ON the air just like you sound OFF the air.
Step 3 – Reject the typical or the easiest thing to do. Keep adding stuff all the time. Burn material like jet fuel. Try something this week that you’ve never done before.
That should jump start things.