Some coaching sessions are what I call “workshop” sessions, where instead of concentrating on one thing, we talk more about the bigger picture, and how to reach a higher level.
It’s not all pie in the sky, though. Even the best air talents need foundational reminders now and then. Returning to our overall vision clarifies things and takes us out of the “critique” space. Here’s an example, an excerpt from a recap of a recent session with Dave & Tristi, the fine morning team on 89.5 KTSY in Boise:
- Always have a solid ending in mind first. If you do, constructing the story will be far easier. Trying to tie a bunch of divergent facts together at the end is why writers and performers get stumped. Knowing that the Ending is going to resonate relaxes the whole writing (or composing in your head) process.
- An economy of words results in fewer overreactions, phone solicitations get easier and more natural-sounding, and you weed out phrases that sound like ‘liners.’ You don’t want to constrict yourself so much as just trim things down, so they make more impact.
Sessions like today’s, with two premium talents who are always receptive… well, that’s why I enjoy the “workshop” environment so much. (As opposed to the actual Shop classes in school, where the instructor always seemed to be missing a finger.)
There’s this great scene in the old Paul Newman/Robert Redford movie “The Sting.” Redford’s character is questioning about the scam they’re pulling on the bad guy (played by Robert Shaw), and asks, “Do you think it’ll work?” Newman’s character answers, “Relax, kid. We had him twenty years ago when he decided to BE somebody.”
This has actually become a microcosm of the world we’re living in. Everyone hungers to “BE something” even if it’s just for a few seconds. A Twitter posting, a picture that gets “liked” by some social media throng.
Let’s apply this to radio. In coaching over 1700 air talents, I’ve found that it’s always a challenge when someone says he or she wants to ‘be’ somebody (to the listener). While you can certainly strive for that, that’s the shallow end of the pool. The real aim should be to MEAN something to the listener. When you’re the person who weighs in on what’s relevant in my life consistently, that emotional connection IS the point.
You don’t just have ‘name value;’ you have actual value.
It’s never a bad time to work on using fewer words. Here’s why…
When you pare down the word count, it helps you cut through the ‘blah blah’ all over the dial and sound more specific, which tends to “imprint” more on the mind.
It’s a paradox, but using more words rarely makes something clearer.
(Note: This tip started out as a full page of 240+ words, but I cut it down to just 55.)
In the course of some coaching sessions, I sometimes have to discuss grammar with an air talent. It’s painful to correct “between he and I” (which should be “between him and me,” of course) or “Us guys love Fantasy Football.” (Uh huh. So I guess the Queen song was “Us Will Rock You?”)
More than once, I’ve been met with how that’s “nitpicking” or asked, “Why does it matter?”
Here’s why it matters… unless we sound intelligent, like we actually passed seventh-grade English, we can’t be taken seriously. Think about that. Maybe in a time of true darkness, when something really serious has happened, you won’t be the listener’s first choice. Because serious events or issues need serious and uplifting thoughts, and it takes a thorough knowledge of vocabulary, sentence structure, and grammar to be able to inform or comfort people.
We don’t broadcast in a vacuum. Turn on the radio or the TV (or any audio streaming service), and maybe the first thing you’ll notice is how LOUD things are nowadays.
Screaming commercials, “big voice” ANNOUNCEMENTS, local commercials where some car dealership’s relative who’s never had any coaching bleats out the ad copy, commercials or promos that seem twice as loud as the TV show… Sports announcers screaming at you because the crowd noise around them apparently makes them forget that they have a microphone – it’s just an assault on the senses sometimes.
Here’s how you avoid being part of that noise monsoon: Turn down the volume. Be emotionally invested, and trust that being enough. Yes, you want to be ‘animated’ in what you say, but “energy” is overbilled. To be truly heard, you should cultivate an ear-friendly delivery.
More expression, less volume.