The fastest way to increase ratings is to get listeners who already like you to listen more. And the best way to do that is to perform with the conscience of the listener.
Tune out is the biggest cause of ratings loss but we usually fail to appreciate the damage it costs. Air personalities lose up to 50% of the audience by violating the six most common causes of tune-out. Think about that. Can you afford to lose half of the audience in a break?
This could be mitigated if personalities learned to perform with the conscience of the listener.
How Conscience of the Listener Applies
With a keen awareness of how the audience actually hears a break, performance changes. The conscience of the listener means sensing when they are bored.
Here are some ways to apply the concept:
Inside Talk: When conversations become internal rather than external, listeners tune out. This comes up in focus groups regularly. When the audience feels like outsiders, they tune out.
Phone Calls: As human beings, we’re taught to be polite in. A phone call feels like a personal conversation, but there’s an audience listening in. Don’t be polite to the caller and rude to the audience.
Personal Stories: Most shows perform as if the audience knows far more about them than they really do. They make the mistake of assuming that listeners know the names of their spouse, that they have kids and pets, and what they do in their spare time. That may be true for the biggest fans, but casual listeners and secondary fans feel left out because they just don’t get it.
How to Develop A Conscience
It’s not hard to develop this skill. Here are three keys to becoming more proficient in performing with the conscience of the listener:
Preparation: Mentally rehearse the flow of a break. Visualize it and identify potential trouble points or areas that would be confusing to an uninformed listener. Then plan ways to respond if and when problems arise.
Review: Aircheck regularly (and critically) through the ears of a new listener. When would you feel excluded? Where do you stop caring? At what point would you tune out? What would cause that tune out?
Improvise: Develop improv skills to keep breaks moving forward. It’s a great way to learn to interact with partners while considering how the audience hears it.
It’s not hard to get into the mind space of a listener. But it takes discipline to put it into action each day. It is hard to develop the conscience of the listener. But whether you’re a solo show or part of a cast, learning to turn attention outward changes the way you come across on the air. And that can be a very good thing!
I review several key points on tune-out in the Content Superhero eBook, where I explain the causes of tune-out in detail.