Concentration of Force Unlocks Your Power
by Tracy Johnson
A principle of war is to focus an attack on a narrow, defined target. The concentration of force does not necessarily imply a massing of forces, but rather having them united to deliver an impact when and where required.
Let’s unpack it with an object lesson first taught to me by my mentor, Alan Burns.
Concentration Of Force Demonstrated
Concentration of Force can be demonstrated as follows:
- Stretch an ordinary sheet of paper tightly between both hands in front of you. This paper represents your audience’s level of awareness. In order to impact listeners, you must cut through this sheet of paper to get into their minds. All you have to do is punch through that thin sheet of paper to get into their minds. That doesn’t seem too hard, does it?
- Have someone place the palm of their hand in the center of the paper. The five fingers in the center of the paper represents five things you may be trying to “teach” your listener. No matter how hard your partner presses on the center of the paper, they will not be able to penetrate the single sheet of paper.
- Now, to demonstrate concentration of force, have them place one finger on the sheet of paper, and apply just a little pressure. They cut through immediately.
The lesson: You can teach listeners one thing at a time. Then, and only then, you can introduce another concept. It’s the fastest way to build a meaningful brand as a station, a radio show or a personality.
Concentration of Force and Learning Theory
How does this apply to air personalities? Most shows work too hard on too many things. They try to become everything to their audience at once. As a result, they never really connect because they spread their emphasis in too many areas.
Building a personality brand happens in stages. And most personalities aren’t patient enough to build one thing at a time.
Learning theory proves that you can’t teach a young child algebra. They must first learn to multiply and divide. And before that, they must learn to add and subtract. Of course, they can’t do that until they understand how numbers relate. But they won’t grasp that concept until they learn to count.
Like children, your audience learns one step at a time. And each step is learned through concentration of force.
Apply It To Your Show
Wouldn’t it be great if you could just perform your show, demonstrate your incredible range of talents and abilities, and wait for the audience to discover all the magical, wonderful reasons you are God’s gift to entertainment?
Sorry, it hardly ever works like that. Your show would be better served if it spent all (or at least most) of your time focused on one aspect of your show. Perfect it and become known for it. When your audience learns that about you, you can teach them something new.
Concentrating resources means having a keen focus on doing fewer things well. Resolve to only be active if we make an impact. This will allow you to think bigger, plan further in advance and be strategic rather than tactical.
Imagine that you have a great new idea. Now you have to figure out a strategy for programming the feature for maximum impact. This is where the hand-wringing begins. How often should you run it? Daily? Weekly? Once in awhile?
Most of the time, program directors and personalities just go with what feels right. Their gut. But there’s a better way if you bring science into the equation and focus on concentration of force. Let’s look at it logically.
Learning Theory and Programming Features
Learning theorists (behavioral scientists who study how human beings learn new concepts) believe it takes 12 repetitions to become familiar with, and learn, something new. Now think about how fans listen to your show:
- They listen for about 10 minutes at a time.
- They listen for 2-3 quarter hours per day.
- And they average just over 2 days per week.
Remember, these are your fans. Secondary listeners and casual cumers listen much less frequently. In fact more than 50% of your audience tune in for a total of less than 3 minutes per day.
Now imagine that you have a variety of contests or games that are all at least average in appeal. Maybe you have five games that you play each game once a week. How long does it take to get traction?
- Fans who tune in every single day figure it out in 12 weeks…if they happen to tune in at the right time.
- Fans tuning in 3 days per week (above average) learn it in about 17 weeks…again, if they catch you in the right quarter hours every time.
- If they tune in 2 days per week (just below average), it’s almost 20 weeks.
Note that this is assuming you play the game at the same time, as listeners tend to be habitual, pattern listeners. If you rotate the game through different quarter hours and hours, it’s unlikely it will ever become familiar.
And, I would argue that finding that many features that fit your station, match your character profile, are strong in appeal and you’re really good at is difficult.
The Mind Clutter Effect
Add to that the mind clutter of managing so many different elements. The competition for attention adds another barrier to listener understanding. That’s why you should grow a show by adding one element at a time and being great at it.
You may argue that your show becomes redundant by scheduling the same features at the same time every day. That’s a valid point only if the feature isn’t very good. That’s another reason to be selective and do fewer things better.
If it’s really a hit, you won’t be able to burn it out. One client has been running a benchmark feature four times each morning for more than 7 years. It’s the strongest, most identifiable part of the show.
Worry about burn in, not burn out. Great features can run for years. If and when fatigue sets in, start a new feature!
Start With The Basics
A friend of mine is a personal trainer. Every time a new client comes in for a first time consultation, they are asked what they want to achieve. Usually, the client wants to lose a few pounds, firm up their legs or butt or just “look better”.
The trainer listens, then ignores what the client says they want. He puts them on a program to train the core muscle group first. The first few weeks are spent exclusively on working the abs and deep core muscles.
Why? To be effective in reaching their desired results, they must first build a foundation, one step at a time. By concentrating the force, faster progress is possible.
Concentration of force is a real thing. If you watch for it, you’ll see it everywhere. Don’t you think it’s time to apply it to your radio show?
Tracy Johnson specializes in radio talent coaching, radio consulting for programming and promotions and developing digital strategies for brands.