Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Art of Interviewing

The art of interviewing in the electronic media is a dying one, mainly because interviewers have followed the industry trend of transforming interviews into discussions where statements, rather than questions, are the main staple of the interview and are traded back and forth between interviewer and interviewee.

By transforming an interview into a discussion or debate, many interviewers think they have more power and control over the interview. They couldn't be more wrong.

Questions are infinitely more powerful that statements because they point a conversation in a direction so chosen by the questioner. Statements by an interviewer both empower and let interviewees off the hook.

Firstly let's explore the power of questions. Click here for a short essay on the art of asking questions.

The following series of essays covers a broad range of ideas and techniques designed to allow you to sharpen technique and become a better interviewer

Becoming an Expert Interviewer Part 1

Becoming an Expert Interviewer Part 2

Becoming an Expert Interviewer Part 3

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Form and Content: the nuts and bolts of good radio programming

Whether its a rap music station or a shock jock talk program, there are some universal principles that apply to attention-grabbing radio.

In any radio show there are two components: form and content. To make your show stand out from the crowd, you need to pay a lot of attention to finding a balance between the two. If content is great but form is bad, expect your ratings to reflect that. If form is great but content is insipid, then your show may have a lot of ra ra but you'll come acroos as a himbo or a bimbo, as someone lacking in substance.

Click this link to access a Program Evaluation Primer that you can use to determine how your show stacks up against those universal benchmarks of good radio programming.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Whether it’s selling product or communicating on an issue of crucial importance, top-flight announcers the world over attribute the so-called secrets of their success to some very commonsense and learnable skills and behaviours:

Great public speakers work a crowd, but gifted announcers work one listener, building a long-term relationship with a composite listener or representative member of their audience.

Successful presenters aren’t fakes: they sound like real people. They reveal enough of their personality and depth to enable their listener to like, enjoy and respect them.

  • They don’t have ‘microphone-y’ voices. Instead they have full, rich voices ringing with life and tonal variety. They sound on-air just like they sound off-air.

  • They give themselves permission to express a broad range of emotions. Both in what they say and how they say it, their voices reflect the ‘emotional fingerprint’ of their content.

  • They let their natural energy flow, refusing to cap it as some trouble-shooters would an oil well. They come alive when they are relating to their listener.

  • They constantly focus on their listener, linking their content to their listener’s experiences and communicating directly with the ‘you’ of their listener.

  • They communicate in shared space, allowing their listener to participate, interact and feel very much part of what is happening on the radio.

  • They know that their listener is emotional and intuitive first and rational and logical second, and they speak directly to their listener’s heart.

Not much to ask, is it?

An interesting aspect of the above characteristics is that many people, most of the time, exhibit all of the above qualities in social, group and family situations, but when they get behind a microphone, they become a ghost of their real selves, hiding behind a clumsily constructed public persona.

Excuse the exaggeration, but why is it that normally intelligent people become completely different behind a microphone?

There are many reasons why budding broadcasters engage in do-it-yourself image building, hiding their personalities behind unbelievably thin and makeshift radio ‘announcer’ personae. One reason is immaturity: the uncertainties of youth. Interestingly, some young people driven by a burning desire to be radio stars have deep-rooted inferiority complexes and see radio as an esteem-building opportunity to act out idealised self-images, amateur though they may be.

Others get sucked in by the radio ‘culture’ and bow to demands that they forsake their true personality for some bizarre prototype that represents “what a radio personality should be”.

Yet others arrive at the flawed assumption that, somehow, radio presenters have to sound different than real people. They go on to become aloof, disembodied and sometimes artificially buoyant on-air ‘voices’ that are good for some commercial reads but can’t cut the mustard in major market personality radio.

There are many subtle pressures exerted on radio announcers to be other than themselves and to conform to the outdated traditions of some sections of the industry. The end result of this acculturation is the radio ‘hack’, a prisoner of technique, an automaton who is a slick as a snake-oil salesman, but who has the personality of a zombie, or even worse, a career politician!!

Click here for tips and techniques on how to sound natural and real when reading copy and presenting patter


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Know Your Medium

Many broadcasters assume that they are the centre of the Radioland universe and that listeners lend their full attention to their every word. Nothing further could be the truth. In fact, your average radio broadcaster is lucky if they have control of “half an ear” for most of the time.
In the first of this series, we’ll review the reality of listening habits and explode a few myths in the process. Click here to read the article

Sunday, November 19, 2006

My Techniques are Yours to Have

 As a broadcaster in both radio and television I picked up more than a few techniques over a period of twenty-five years. I had a dream run before entering the field of communication consulting and training - fifteen years in both TV and radio and ten years presenting a popular daily talk and current affairs show for a national broadcaster has given me an insight into the so-called mysteries of mass communication.

My training as a psychologist was very useful in terms of being able to deconstruct performance and to set down performance techniques into clear suites of instructions. This has enabled me to teach broadcasting skills in a number of countries, earning considerable income in the process. And so now I have decided to give something back. It is my intention to share what I have learned - in fact to give away all that I have learned about broadcasting - for free.

Myths about radio and television presentation technique abound and very few broadcasters like to share their secrets. In my experience, many broadcasters pretend that their persona and approach to mass communication are innate qualities that simply manifested themselves in a brilliant explosion of talent!

Let me tell you - many of the techniques that make TV and radio presentation appear effortless to the viewer are hard won, learned over time and only achieved through practice. Noone simply explodes on to the scene, no matter what they tell you.

Feel free to use the material I post on this blog in any way you like. Learn from it or use it as a teaching aid - all I ask is you show appropriate ethics by acknowledging the source.

If you have questions, feel free to post them. Comments likewise.