A morning show host I work with recently found cause to read a poem on the air. While he meant well, it really stalled out the momentum of the show, and basically just sounded less personal. Here’s the right technique to use:
Paraphrase it, using your own words to frame the subject, then only directly quote a very SHORT quote or passage from whatever it is you’re bringing to the table – whether it’s a poem, like in this case, or an article about something.
My longstanding rule is “Only people with cataracts want to be read to,” but it’s more than just that. Anybody can read something; it’s the easiest and safest thing to do from a talent standpoint, because you can hide behind someone else’s words, not have to work very hard to fill the time, and dodge accountability for whatever the Content is.
But that’s not what we’re here for.
When you just read something verbatim in its entirety, the listener doesn’t learn anything about you, except for what your inflection might reveal. However, even that is limited, because if you do take a different tone from how it’s written, you can seem at cross purposes with the subject matter – in effect, impeaching your own source of information.
You’re FORCED to humanize it more when you read less of it. And that helps the listener bond with you. I often tell talent to “crack your chest open and show us what’s in there,” because in the long run that’s what becoming a star is all about.
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