Ten Things to Do Right Now To Improve Your On-Air Delivery
Conceive of the mic as a camera and stay in the center of the shot. That means not too far back, not too close in, and not too far off the center axis. Extend your right thumb and index finger-that'’s the perfect distance away from the mic.
Your "instrument" consists of a long tube, a pair of strings, a pump to pull air in (lungs) and a pump to push air out (diaphragm.) When you sit slumped in a "C" shape, the tube is bent and the pumps are constricted. For better sound, more projection, and much more energy, keep your spine erect and your shoulders back. Always stand if you can.
There is a big difference in tone when you speak from your throat compared to when you speak from your stomach. When you use the whole system, when you push air from the diagram muscle near your stomach you get a fuller, deeper, less nasal sound. When you push air from the back of your throat, you get a smaller, thinner, more pinched sound. It's your choice how you want to sound.
The key to a confident performance is preparation-getting ahead of the sequence of events so that you always have the next set of elements under complete control. This means always fully loading your CD players and listening to all opening cues to make sure they're tight. It means jotting down any outline for that sequence of events so that you're tight, bright, and on track. It means pre-reading any copy scheduled in the set so you are comfortable with it. Same with previewing recorded promos.
Chances are the first time you say something is not the very best way you could say it. Close maybe, but rarely perfect. So take your gem of an idea and polish it. Three times is the charm. Before you open the mic, speak your next break out loud. All the bugs will become evident, the places where your thoughts or words aren't quite buttoned down. Speak it a second time and the rough edges smooth out because now you know where you're going. The third time, you go live. You don't have to run your entire break through this drill but you should always rehearse the two most important components: your entrance and exit.
Our world is on communication overload. We're supersaturated with e-mail, cell phones, telemarketers during dinner, broadband Web, and omnipresent radio and TV. So do your listeners a huge favor: Think before you speak and choose fewer, more powerful words. Fewer words arranged in a tighter sequence give your ideas bigger impact. Less truly is more. Your audience will appreciate this respect for their time and reward you with loyalty.
For years professional athletes have used a technique called visualization to prepare for a successful performance and we can adapt this to our role as announcers. When you visualize, you fix one listener in your mind and talk directly to him or her. You remove the artificial tones and cadences, the "DJ-isms" from your speech. You talk exactly like you talk to your close friend in a one-to-one conversation. In the process you become real. You're allowed to show and share emotions, opinions, all the things that real people do together. This attitude helps listeners adopt you into their family and circle of friends. This is right where you want to be.
8. Outside-In Thinking-
It really helps performance to put the shoe on the other foot and think like a listener. How do they perceive you and your role? What do they want from the station? What do they want from you? What are their listening circumstances? Chances are they're multitasking, sharing you with work, driving, conversation, etc. Keep your focus on the listener at all times.
9. Station Identification-
Believe it or not, it's impossible to over-identify the radio station. It's the brand name, after all. The single most important identifier is the frequency. It's the one thing listeners need to remember in order to find us again. And if you believe Arbitron, the majority of diary keepers are now referring to their listening by the number on the dial. (Anachronistic word, dial.) Next in order of importance are the call letters, the positioning tag line, and the station's URL. The place to identify the station is at the start of your break not the middle. Work with these four identifiers and get at least two of them as close to music as possible going into a track and coming out of a track. You want to closely associate the music with the brand name.
A positive attitude is infectious. Your enthusiasm for the music and for the station is the most valuable ingredient you can add to the mix. Keep it up!