by Tracy Johnson
Ah, the art of conversations. Many of us struggle with them in real life. It’s one of the reasons some personalities love being on the radio. They don’t have to deal with real human beings. But having a conversation on the radio in a way that attracts listeners is tricky.
On the one hand, listeners are eavesdropping on a private conversation between hosts and cohosts. On the other hand, the real target is the listener who isn’t actively participating in the conversation. It defies normal social cues that we have learned since we were very young.
But it can be done. And once it’s mastered, personalities can advance beyond the first three stages (Introduction, Familiarity, and Growth) in their Personality Success Path. Learning the art of conversational performance is the gateway to Stage 4 (Like )and 5 (Love). That goes for team shows, of course. But it also applies to solo performers.
This is such a difficult task because the audience is blind. You can’t see them, which makes it hard to gauge reactions. Telling a story or cracking a joke in a casual social setting produces a response. Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s bad. But either way, you’re able to read the room and adjust performance. It’s an active listening environment.
Radio personalities are challenged to produce a similar reaction, but the audience is simply eavesdropping. Think of it as over-hearing your conversations.
The best way to improve this area is practice. The more you do it, the easier it gets. However, there’s an old saying:
Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.
So here are five tips to help grow your skills in the art of conversations on the radio.
It drives listeners crazy when they don’t know who’s talking. Radio folks often assume listeners know who they are. Some think listeners can follow the conversation between three or four (or more) personalities.
But they can’t.
It’s much easier to follow a conversation in real life because of the visual contact. Learn to name tag each other in conversations. It’s awkward at first because, in the studio, you do have eye contact. For details on how to do this naturally, go here.
Investing in improv classes may be the single smartest thing radio personalities can make. Improv teaches communication skills that build momentum without introducing dead ends or detours.
The spirit of improvisation is at the heart of effective personality radio. Even seasoned pros can become more proficient and effective by learning even basic story building skills.
For more on how improv improves radio performance, visit here.
The art of conversations can be enhanced with color! It’s easier to be interesting if you have the tools to entertain. That comes from Active Listening and Free Association. These skills power spontaneous, natural reactions and produce more colorful language.
Active Listening means being tuned into the conversation and react accordingly. Personalities must learn to Listen and Respond, and that’s hard for many personalities who tend to think more about what they are about to say than listening to what is happening around them.
Free Association is a related skill. It’s the practice of making instant connections to add color to the conversation.
In real life, we are taught to be polite and express a point of view as an opinion. On the radio, that doesn’t cut through. Great performers make powerful statements that cause a more active response.
For example, a comment like this won’t get a lot of reaction:
I think guys should be more considerate and ask for help when going on a date.
Saying “I think” qualifies the statement. It’s hard to have a strong reaction, whether the listener agrees or not.
However, rephrasing it as a powerful statement changes everything:
Guys need to get a clue and let us do the date planning.
There are many ways to improve speech patterns for greater impact described in my Seminar on Demand Powerful Language For Strong Performance.
The human voice is an amazing communication tool when used properly. Learn to use inflection, tempo changes, and pauses as a voice weapon to command greater attention.
Many personalities focus so much on getting the words out that emotion is drained from the performance. Don’t rush. Let content breathe. If there’s not enough time to fit in the performance window, adjust the content. But don’t rush through it!
Many times we focus so much attention on what we’re going to do that we lose sight of how we’re going to do it. In personality Radio, how is at least as important as what. Probably more so.
Every personality should work on the art of conversation. Study and practice these skills. It will make a huge impact.
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