Personalities naturally fall into patterns over time. When you find a formula that works, repeating it becomes second nature. On one hand, the familiarity adds a sense of subtle comfort for the audience and confidence in your performance. But it can result in a sense of sameness that doesn’t generate as much excitement as it could or should. Fortunately, there are many ways to keep performances fresh.

These performance-enhancing methods add variety to your routine and can be valuable for cutting through the clutter and engaging your audience to respond more actively.

How to Keep Performances Fresh

The most common method of launching a topic is:

Set it up.

Offer an opinion or point of view.

Invite listeners or ask/beg for calls.

Let’s get more creative. Here are a variety of ways to engage the audience:

Cheat Codes To Structure On-Air Performance

Issue A Challenge: Make a statement that there is no way anyone listening ______, then let the audience prove you’re wrong. An excellent example of this technique is here in the Eye Poked Out segment. Notice how the show introduces the topic by making a solid claim.

Make a Claim: State something as an absolute fact, but it’s just an opinion. Claim you are right and there’s no way anyone could possibly disagree. However, leave the door open for listeners to change your mind.

Is Anyone Listening Who: This is similar to a challenge but wrapped in a compelling feature. Ask if anyone is listening who fits the description of what you want. For details and examples, go here.

Book Of Records: Set a topic and ask listeners for the most extreme story that fits the description. Details and examples are here.

The Dilemma: Set up a problem and respond to a potential real-life situation.

Settle a Dispute: Present two sides of an argument (usually from two cast members), and use the Five Calls Says It All technique to provide the answer.

Get Something Wrong: Listeners love correcting personalities, so get a fact or two incorrect and let the audience come after you. For details, go here.

Leave Something Out: This is a famous trick for talk shows. Make a claim, but don’t support the details. The audience will fill in the gaps. Here’s how.

Listener Introduces Topic: Set up a ringer or voice-actor to call and tell your show about a story they “heard” and ask if you know anything about it.


Now, let’s apply some of these techniques beyond a low-hanging fruit topic. Here’s the topic:

Man Claims To Have Survived On Two Hours Of Sleep Per Day For Last 25 Years

Issue A Challenge: Be suspicious: “This man is a hero, if it’s true. Could you imagine how much you could accomplish if you had 22 hours per day to do it? But how can it be? Everyone who sleeps less than six hours a day wanders around like a Zombie.”

Make a Claim: React in disbelief: “This can’t be! The least amount of sleep you can get is four hours, especially over a long time. There’s no way this is true, and if anyone says they sleep less than that and keep doing it for even six months, they’re lying. It’s not physically possible.” Set up the first call to come in quickly with a story that argues against your opinion.

Is Anyone Listening Who: Be curious: “This is fascinating, and I’m quite sure nobody listening now gets by on just two hours a day, but is anyone listening who sleeps four hours a day or less? Or the partner of someone who lives on such little sleep. What is that like? How does it work?” You might want to set up a couple of calls for this in advance.

Book Of Records: Go on a quest: “This is amazing and kind of ridiculous, but I wonder who in our community sleeps the least and why? The person who sleeps the least on an average day goes into our show’s Book of Records.”

The Dilemma: Put on a caller: “My husband is driving me crazy. He’s convinced that he only needs four hours of sleep daily to get more things done. But he’s like a different person. He forgets things, is screwing up at work, and is grouchy all the time. The problem is that he doesn’t think there’s a problem. I can’t take it anymore, but he won’t change.”

Settle a Dispute: One character on the show says two hours isn’t enough for even a nap, while the other says naps are for toddlers only and naps are overrated. You’re just training your body to require more sleep than you need.


Do you see how applying a technique can turn an ordinary topic into something extraordinary? Keep performances fresh by changing the rhythm and flow of your show. You probably won’t be great at all of these ideas, but try to master a handful of them for your performance toolbox. Changing the pattern will be more attractive to the audience and more interesting for you.

Subscribe to Receive the Latest Radio and Personality News