Tommy Kramer Tip #212 – How It Starts

Probably the most difficult thing for air talent to latch onto is how something starts. Many breaks are dead in the water before the second sentence is uttered.

I teach several core techniques to master really compelling beginnings. Here are 3 of them:

  1. Don’t talk about yourself the first thing out of your mouth.  Constantly leaning on “I – me – my” beginnings sounds self-absorbed, to say the least.
  2. Don’t ask a Question – especially a rhetorical question.  As George Carlin said, “Why do people ask rhetorical questions?  And do they expect an answer?”  The answer to any question, if you could hear it, is almost always “No.”  Questions sound weak and disingenuous.  Make Statements to make Impact.
  3. Don’t be too abrupt.  Way too often, I hear someone just launch into a subject for apparently no reason, just plopping it down like somebody walking up to your desk and dropping a squid on it.  While that first thing you say CAN be thought of as a “headline” (which is what a lot of people are taught), remember that it should be a “spoken word” headline, not a “print” headline.  We want it to be concise, but it also has to sound like something you’d actually say to a friend, not a quote from an article or book.

Like peeling away the layers of an onion, there are many more techniques to learn, but with just those 3 goals in mind, you can separate yourself from all the babbling across the rest of the media choices.

It’s always about ENGAGING the LISTENER.

When The Other Person Is Always Wrong

“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.”
~Michael Jordan

The official meaning of the term “wrongspotting” is zeroing in on the part of the feedback we get during performance conversations that we consider factually wrong, then fixating on it.  That happens a lot.   People aren’t prepared to hear something that doesn’t fit in their self-perception and using that something to negate all of the feedback.  It happens all the time.

There’s even a word for it:  Confirmation Bias – Tending to see your perspective, and defending your ideas, as a reason not to believe anything else.  Even though it’s apparent to others.

Frost Advisory #367 – Your Listeners’ Unspoken Question

There is a neighborhood in my town where the billboard messages have a similar theme, seemingly choreographed as I drive past them on the six lane highway.

“Dan (the lawyer) got me $800,000!”

“My ticket clinic got my case dismissed”

“Divorce for Men”

“Pawn shop!  Get money instantly!”

“Car accident? You could be eligible to get $10,000!”

Each billboard seems to be tapping into the unspoken question, “How can I get what’s coming to me?”

“…anticipate and answer your customer’s unspoken questions.  Don’t blather on about the things you wish they cared about – even if those are the things the customer really ought to care about – until you’ve first answered the question that’s on their mind.”
~Roy Williams

Too many radio stations seem to be answering questions no one is asking.

Tommy Kramer Tip #211 – Seinfeld’s Three Rules of Living

There’s an HBO Special called “If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast.”  It’s about people 90 years of age or more that are still vibrant and productive, featuring Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, TV Producer Norman Lear, and many others – and, with occasional comments, Jerry Seinfeld.

At one point late in the special, Jerry lays out his “3 Rules of Living.”  They are:

  1. Bust your ass.  Whatever you do, work as hard as you can.  Give it everything you’ve got.
  2. Pay attention.  Notice the things around you all the time.  Appreciate them all the time.
  3. Fall in love.  Not just romantic love.  Love your parking space.  Love your sandwich.  Seinfeld tells about having breakfast with George Burns once, and Burns said “This may be the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had in my life.”  In his mid-nineties, Burns still had the desire to see something worth relishing every day.

Now ask yourself these questions:

Do you work hard every day?  In this era of the computer running everything (usually pretty sloppily), it’s easy to get lazy.  Do you just pluck items off some prep sheet to quack about instead of getting out and discovering things that your listener is talking about?

Do you rely on callers to “do the show for you?”  (Someone said that to me at a convention one year. I wanted to scream.)  The “topics and phone calls” thing can wear really thin really fast, and dominates way too much radio time that could be spent on something more immediate and impactful.  You could… what do they call it?… oh yeah, you could DO a SHOW.

Do you pay attention to what’s around you?  In my on-air days, I often drove into work using a different route, or just turning a block or two sooner or later than normal, so I could see stuff like which store was opening (or closing), what kind of roadwork was starting (and when), etc.

Are you in love with your job?  Do you have a real appreciation for the listener’s time?  I hear a lot of shows that virtually dismiss the precious ‘one on one’ connection all the time, by talking to “listeners” or “those of you” or even worse, “all the people listening out there.”  Do you still, in 2017, not realize that people have LOTS of other options?  If you don’t care about what you’re doing, why should they?

There’s a reason that Seinfeld is definitely on the Mount Rushmore of Comedians – and it’s not just that he can think up jokes.  Adopt his “3 Rules” and you’ll have a better career and a better life.

Managing Like A Dog

“The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too.”
~Samuel Butler

Our 15-year-old Westie follows us around everywhere we go.  He seems to always be at our heels.  That’s why following someone around is called “dogging” them.

But our Westie has another interesting habit: he tries to anticipate where we’re heading.  He moves around us, and then, of course, is in the way and stops us.  Poor guy, it’s almost like he’s read some books about poor management and is trying to express it.

It comes up in management because micro-managing is a workplace version of dogging.  If you’re always on the heels of your people, watching everything they do, questioning everything that happens, and trying to tell them what to do, you’re dogging them.  Worse yet, if you try to play the leader using the “dogging” management technique, you’re bound to trip them up too.  It’s hardly leadership, let alone a good form of management.

Then there’s the second cousin of dogging, hounding.  That involves asking so many questions or “following up” so much it drives people crazy.  Of course, there are lots of other comparisons, like having to pee on the fire hydrant to mark it.

But then, people are smarter, right?