Does your audience feel seen? When they tune in, do they feel that they’re personally connected in inclusive conversations, or do they feel like outsiders? There’s a thin line between an engaging, personal performance and a self-absorbed show that causes listeners to feel alienated.
In a world bursting with content, allowing the audience to feel part of the conversation is the only way to feel like they’re part of it.
Most radio shows intend to connect with the audience by being so good the audience wants to eavesdrop on what they are doing. Sometimes, That may be true, but it’s frustrating to tune into a group of people who start a segment only talking to each other and ignoring the fact that the entire performance is designed for the audience.
Imagine walking past a house with a raging party inside. Everyone is having a great time. You can see people laughing and smiling, and as you get closer, you recognize many of them as your friends, coworkers, and family. The problem is you are watching through the window, excluded from the fun.
Shows can easily fix this by following several key tips for more inclusive conversations.
How To Have Inclusive Conversations
Here are a few ways to sharpen your performance to help your audience feel “seen”:
Reset the Topic: The active audience constantly tunes in and out. Don’t assume they were listening last hour or even five minutes ago. Many tune in during the middle of a talk segment. If they feel lost or confused, they feel unwelcome. And they’re gone. Frequent, concise resets bring new listeners into the conversation.
Invite Participation: Yes, phone call volume is lower than in the past, but part of the reason is personalities make it difficult to call and participate. Even if your listener doesn’t want to call, inviting participation makes them feel more welcome. Do it often and make it clear and easy to follow.
Listen and Respond: Communication involves listening. Many personalities are focused on what they’re going to say instead of the actual conversation. Being prepared is important, but so is using your improv skills to react spontaneously without changing the subject.
The Unseen Listener: The audience is hearing your show in a very different way than you are. One of the most valuable aircheck sessions is the Drive-Around Aircheck, where you evaluate your show like an actual listener. It’s a valuable wake-up call that will likely cause you to feel like an outsider listening to your own show.
More Tips For Inclusive Conversations
Character Identification: It’s hard to feel connected when you don’t know another person’s name. It’s even more difficult in an audio-only medium because the audience can’t see who is speaking. Learn to frequently name-tag personalities. This goes beyond simply saying your names at the start of a segment. Practice this in real life! It will be awkward at first, but the more you do it, the more natural it will feel. For example, instead of saying, “What’s been the most difficult part of the school year in your house so far?”, name-tag with, “Peppy has two young kids at home. What’s been the hardest part of the year so far?”
Be a Good Party Host: The primary responsibility of a show’s host is to ensure listeners know what is happening. Think of yourself as the host of a party, constantly working so guests (your audience) have a great time and feel comfortable. Introduce each segment with clarity and purpose. Even if you’ve been doing War Of The Roses for 20 years, set it up as if it were the first time!
Guests and Interviews: If you have a guest on the show, reintroduce them every few minutes. Some personalities try to do this every 90 seconds. There’s no magic formula, but it’s better to do it too often than not enough.
Your show or podcast shouldn’t just be a stage on which to perform. It should be an inviting home where listeners feel like they belong.
Pay attention to these practices to create bridges with your audience by working to create more inclusive conversations. They would love to be invited to the party if you just make them feel welcome.