Football player and coach Herm Edwards said, “A goal without a plan is nothing but a dream.”
You want to get better. We all do. But how?
If you don’t have a plan, you may luck into something, but probably not. And even then, you’ll be tested. Something will come up, like a hurricane, or the Coronavirus, or the Black Lives Matter movement, and you’d better have some process in place that’ll work for you. As we’ve seen, people often blurt something out that backfires on them.
When you open that mic, the most important thing to do is what seems like the easiest one: MEAN IT.
But this is actually very difficult to do without some training. If you sound even the slightest bit insincere, or like you’re just serving up information with no real emotional investment in it… well, that’s why everyone’s impression of an air talent is that kind of pukey, surface-level-but-no-deeper “announcer guy” (or vapid nitwit).
ESPECIALLY if you’ve been blessed with an exceptional voice, remember that Emotions top “a great voice” every time.
If you sound like you actually MEAN what you’re saying, your listener will feel it. If you don’t, in baseball terminology you “just fouled one off your own foot.”
A lack of credibility is never anyone’s first choice.
Not long ago, I saw a TV ad for a European car, and the voiceover began with “The thrill you’ll feel when you sit down behind the wheel…”
No. I’ve driven one of those cars, and because it sits about 4 inches off the ground, I didn’t feel the “thrill,” I felt like I was getting a colorectal exam at sixty miles an hour.
This ‘telling people what they think or feel’ (or what their reaction should be) is really annoying. Al Ries and Jack Trout call it “Marketing your aspirations.”
It’s rampant in radio, too. Just this week, I heard a morning show promo that said “Great stories, and lots of laughs” (or some other bragging drivel). Not true. I heard them, and their stories were “pat” and predictable, and the farthest thing from “laughs” I could imagine. They just recycled stories from the internet, and plugged their Facebook page.
Instead of constantly telling your listeners what you WANT them to think or feel about your show or your station, just promote the Benefits of listening to you. The best show promo just plays me a clip of the show, then tags it with who you are and when you’re on.
Let the listeners decide for themselves. Let go of the hype. No one believes it.
This is a “Next Level” tip.
A lot of what I coach comes from the acting world, not specifically from radio. Last week’s tip was a thought from Marlon Brando, and then I was reminded of this great piece of advice from an appearance the great Paul Newman made on an episode of “Inside the Actors’ Studio”:
“You can’t have a dramatic pause if you always pause. You can’t get someone’s attention by being loud if you’re always loud.”
When you “stretch” yourself and get different “reads” you start pre-selecting in real time. You have CHOICES, and avoid just “doing what you always do.”
Remember: Consistency is great, but Predictability is death.
Widely considered to be the best actor ever, Marlon Brando once said a key was “Never let them catch you acting.”
There are a ton of air talents who obviously haven’t ever considered this.
Never let ’em catch you “listening to your voice” as you speak.
Never let ’em catch you TRYING to be funny.
Never let ’em catch you feigning an emotion.
Never let ’em catch the mood you were in when you were arguing with your partner a few minutes ago off-mic.
Never let ’em catch you sounding insincere when you’re talking about something serious.
Great actors make the roles they play look effortless, the same way that Michael Jordan made it look like he could jump up and just STAY up until he felt like coming down. You never see all the insanely hard work it took to make it seem that way.
We already have the phrase “Be like Mike.” I’d think “Be like Brando” too.