I hear this a lot. Often it’s something that’s said to avoid a difficult conversation, or an uncomfortable situation in the office. It’s a limiting belief that can mean inauthentic relationships are formed, and that progress on a project is halted.
A few weeks ago I used Emma Willis’ example of holding Roxanne Pallet to account as a “comfortable confrontation”. Emma used some of the techniques I talk about in this article.
For radio presenters “I don’t do confrontation” is the reason given for not holding guests or contributors to account. It’s understandable to feel that way, as you are often thankful for contributors and guests being on your show. Asking difficult questions feels unfair, out of character or ungrateful.
The reality is that difficult conversations are likely to happen every single day on air, or in the office. Here are some of the tips I give to help you through that unavoidable awkwardness, and to get the best from the guest.
1. Make sure you know what you want
Make sure you have a good understanding of what you want out of the conversation before you enter in to it. Set your intent. It might be to be kind, or to get the answers that your audience (or you) deserve. As a result, you will have to ask the question that plays devil’s advocate to get the answer you want.
When interviewing someone on the radio about a Cheese Festival the question: “So what are the reasons people like cheese?” Would get you so far. But “why are you celebrating cheese, it’s just a silly piece of dairy isn’t it?” Could get you a stronger, more interesting answer.
2. Check your language
If going at it directly like this is too uncomfortable, you can distance yourself in your language to take the emotion and the personal attack out of it.
Firstly – argue the idea, evidence or behaviour, not the person. The minute you go to personal language like “you’re an idiot for thinking what you think” you have lost the productivity of the conversation.
A therapist of mine suggested to me to use the word “I” in conflict, rather than “you”. In broadcasting I am constantly telling people to use the word “you” as a way to engage their listener. It’s the most powerful word you can use for this. But in the context of difficult conversations it can be a useful tool to use I: “What I am seeing is <example> behaviour which is implying to me…” rather than “You are a really difficult person”.
On the radio it works to use phrases like “Some people might say that this is a silly Festival for Cheese – is it?” or. “What do you say to someone who says that thinks this Festival is a silly idea?”
3. Agreeing is Partial (not Impartial)
I recently spent a day coaching new radio presenters, practicing their interview technique. Their brief was to remain impartial. Presenter after presenter interviewed their contributor consistently grateful, constantly agreeing with them and guess what – it was dull. That may be unfair, but I didn’t really learn anything from the interviews. It is a common mistake to think that impartiality sits in agreeing. It’s actually the opposite.
In the on air interview, or if you are hosting a panel, it is your job to make sure you are covering the information from all angles. Using the language above (e.g. “Some people might say…”) you can put forward an opinion that may not be yours, without having to attach yourself to it. This can make the feeling of confrontation a little easier.
My husband really enjoys a debate. One time we agreed that we would go out on a family day out at 11am. At about 10.30 he and his aunt got locked into a debate about politics of some sort. We all sat there till 1pm till they came to their conclusion.
I mean, he REALLY loves a debate.
I used to hate it. My skin would crawl. I’d feel shame and discomfort. I would want to hide. And let’s be honest, no one really wants to sit around for 2 hours while you’re waiting for a heated discussion to be finished!
But then I wondered what would happen if I leaned in to it. He loves it, I would be gutted if he dismissed one of the things I love. So I decided to try joining in, rather than shutting it down, and use it as a means of practice. For some people they like the opportunity to intellectually spar, and it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about learning.
Even so, it’s so hard not to get emotional, or take it personally! But with him, I am in a safe space. He knows me, I can get my words wrong, I can correct myself, I can practice what it is to be devil’s advocate, to call things out I don’t agree with. The outcome is I am getting better at forming my words and questions in what can be an emotional state & I am better at speaking up in other situations too. And, I think my husband and I have actually found a place to connect a little more.
So find someone to practice with.
I have had to fire people, I have had to deal with getting people to realise they are making mistakes, and I have had to deal with conversations about my own work and behaviour that have been really tough. In every situation the one piece of advice that has helped is this: it’s supposed to feel uncomfortable.
For years I thought there was “a way” to make the uncomfortable, comfortable. There are ways to make things less uncomfortable, but some conversations are always going to be difficult.
Once I embraced the discomfort, I was able to come to terms with understanding that conflict can be a route to growth, that it was something to practice and commit to getting to a more interesting place.
“Just be yourself” is the ultimate in advice when it comes to presenting.
What happens when you know you need your message to be heard, but your authentic self is to be introverted and softly spoken?
What if you are presenting on a music station, and you are a massive sports fan?
What if you are presenting to the board? Do they really want to know that you struggled to find a clean pair of pants this morning?
Being advised to be authentic can open a can of worms, but the desire from audiences for “real people” is not going away. The popularity of TV shows like Love Island and Big Brother show this. The rise of the internet broadcaster (You Tubers / Influencers) is rooted in the sort of authenticity that is lost in the linear broadcasting of Radio or TV.
There are things I regularly talk to my clients about with how to deal this…
1) Be clear on “you”
During your show/presentation prep, write down the 5-10 things you know to be true about you. These are things you love, things you hate, things you are passionate about. These are the things that make you you, and make you human, and they can inform and appear in your content. You can also ask yourself “what are the things I know to be true about the topic I am presenting about?”
Example: I am a massive learner, and I love stories, so my presentations always include something I have learned from an experience, or from someone else.
2) Be clear on who you are speaking to
Engaging an audience is as much about understanding them as it is about understanding you. I know it’s not easy to read people’s minds but you can make a few assumptions. They are of course human (refer to point one). But if it is the board you are speaking to the board, you will have to work out what it is they will be expecting and align yourself with that.
3) Don’t Shoe Horn
Being authentic means being authentic. If you are trying to be authentic for authentic’s sake you won’t get the response that you desire from the audience. Make sure your content, and your stories, fit with what you are talking about. If you are doing a formal presentation, like reading the news, or presenting to the board, there will be opportunities for some personality to come out.
There is a growing trend to admit your imperfections at the moment, it’s a really effective way to engage the audience, and “be authentic”. See the popularity of online sites like The Midult. Self-deprecation, and admissions of your flaws is a guaranteed way to connect with your audience.
But this can be confused with what it is to be authentic, and sometimes too much self deprecation sounds insincere and needy. If you are on stage, screen or on air, you still need to hold your authority.
Positive reflection, observation and aspiration are all still engaging factors. For example, if I am in my true authentic space, there are parts of me that are obsessed with podcasts, self development, CrossFit and I am a bit of a show off. If I was worried about imperfections only, I wouldn’t share some of the more positive, enthusiastic elements of myself. And nothing is more engaging than enthusiasm.
5) Don’t get Stuck In Detail
The thing about authenticity in presentations is that you often don’t have enough time to tell the full story as it happened, with the nuances that went with it. Also getting lost in detail, can lose your audience.
I would love to tell you in detail about the time that I lost a friend’s kid (I did) but I only have a few minutes to do so. So when I tell the story I pull out what I call “the story beats”. These are the most important parts of the story. The bits I remember most: the hideous call to her parents to tell them she’d vanished, the moment we found her, the moment I turned around and she wasn’t there, the fact we were in a huge park, and that the minutes felt like hours. When those beats are put in the right order, I have definitely turned a long story short, and I can add the detail where I need to.
Authentic presenting is about taking all the parts of you and working out which ones will work with the audience you are talking to and the environment you are working in. It is not about baring your soul to everyone, in depth.
Chris Evans announced he was leaving BBC Radio 2 on Monday 3rd September. The station has 15 million listeners. He’s moving to Virgin Radio Breakfast, a station with 400,000 listeners.
For radio presenters this sort of rumbling has an enormous impact, whether you present on the station or not. What other changes might this lead to? Does this affect me? For the better? For the worse? Where are the opportunities?
Ultimately, you have to ask yourself, have you done the work to deal with the outcome – whatever it is?
My first hearing of this latest seismic news was a loud “Wow?!” from upstairs as Mr C got the news that Chris Evans would be joining the Virgin Radio family (Tim is the Evening Show Host on the station).
Then I have that mad succession of thoughts… but out loud:
“That’s amazing! Oh wait. What does this mean for you? What is the worst case scenario?… hang on what is best case scenario?! Ahhhh, remember when we used to watch Chris Evans every morning on the Big Breakfast and he was a hero? Wait… hang on… have you called your boss?? Call your boss!”
This is me in “Wife of Presenter” mode. No doubt, these are the thoughts of the presenter too, but they are happening internally! Tim just asks me to stop talking! He is very excited, his mind blown, he’s considering all his colleagues, and then, he phones his boss 🙂
The fact NO ONE saw this seismic shift in the UK radio landscape coming is testament to the News Corp/Wireless team for keeping the gossip mongers out, and it is also a timely reminder that you don’t know what’s going on inside a station boss’s mind!
Anything can happen at any time, so what can you do to be ready for a seismic shift?
1. Build Relationships If you are already in the gig it’s easy to make sure you are building in positive relationships with your boss and your production team. Make a brew, be proactive, have ideas, make stuff better. A coffee and a chat goes a long way. Oh and – don’t be a dick.If you aren’t in a job already – you have some graft to do. Building relationships starts with building familiarity and then getting in front of people. Networking events are good, emailing is good, oh and don’t be a dick.
2. Have Patience and Tenacity You will never get a job or a promotion from randomly sending some audio, once, to your favourite radio station’s boss. A station production team has to trust that you will be able to steer their ship while you are on air, and fit their brand. This trust building takes a long time. Your aim is to make sure that you are next in line. This takes a lot of graft: building relationships, listening to advice, networking and learning.
There is something to be said for being the last man/woman standing, cos while you will get replies that say “No”, you’re more likely to get no reply whatsoever.
Bide your time. Just. Keep. Going.
3. Collect Experience (in audio form) Keep all your best audio. Make it a habit.
It takes time to build your 3 minute demo, the last thing you want is to be starting from scratch with nothing from the last year. A client and I have been working on gathering audio for the last few months, and we have been back and forth regularly about what we need for the demo and what could be better. It will make for a solid showreel as a result.
But it doesn’t have to be about finding the next job…
4. Create Opportunities through Sharing Audio Regularly When you are proud of something you have done, bank it so you can send it to your boss, and other members of your team. Not everyone can listen all of the time. And it is always good for the sales team, or the PR team to know what you are up to. It makes it easier for them to tell the stories to the people they come into contact with.
If you are trying to break in to the industry, send your demo but ask for advice rather than a job, and get feedback.
Make sure you follow up with more audio that has taken that feedback on board. If you don’t get a reply, follow up with more audio anyway. You are aiming initially to build familiarity, and getting your name in the station boss’s inbox regularly will go some way to do that.
5. And Finally… Get Your Finances In Order I know this seems really obvious but it is a lot easier to make decisions about your career, when you aren’t doing it for this month’s bills. While we can’t all be on hundreds of thousands a year, especially when we are just starting out, financial management means you can take risks without the worry of finding the money to pay your rent.
The basics apply – stash some cash away at the beginning of the month for you, allow for the “holiday pay”, keep your receipts, and save 20-25% of it for tax payments. If you don’t have one already, get an accountant!
The person taking over from Chris Evans will, in theory, leave a gap that will need to be filled that will leave a gap that will need to be filled, and so on and so on. It might be that it’s your opportunity this time, it might not. But this is a long game interspersed with seismic shifts, that you will always need to be ready for.
Engaging your audience is the primary challenge for any presenter, on stage, on screen, and on air. (Keep reading to find out about a new tool I have created that will help you)
The good news is that we humans are hardwired to connect with each other so as long as your audience is captive, they are pretty much ready to connect with you from the start. Your job as presenter is to keep their attention.
Choosing content that is relevant to your audience is important.
Making your content relevant to your audience is essential.
You are always trying to create moments of connection. One way to do that is to get topical. Get in your audience’s “zeitgeist”. If you can, understand where their head is at, from what is going on for them culturally. When you reference it in your content, it will go a long way to keep them engaged.
Ever noticed how when someone starts talking about Christmas in May, it jars doesn’t it?
But when the first Christmas cups appear in Starbucks in November time, you know Christmas is on the way and you can get excited about it!
This is how being topical can help you be relevant.
Basic topicality is acknowledging the day, is it a Monday vibe or a Friday vibe? Then you can think about whether you are in the midst of their holidays like Easter, Valentines Day or Christmas. Then there are specifics in the news or entertainment world.
I recently did a workshop for some lawyers right at the deadline of the new GDPR proceedures. I used the opportunity to make jokes around the amount of emails we were all getting, and the amount of work they were having to do for their clients. It was an easy win, and the response from the participants was unprecedented.
If you are presenting regularly on air, on social media or on stage, then you start to get good at knowing what your audiences will like. You get good at finding your “go to” websites (BBC News / TMZ / BuzzFeed etc.) to inspire your content ideas.
As a content creator I often like to get ahead with my web content, so it’s good to be able to plan ahead the topicality.
To help you with this I have pulled together a Content Calendar for reference. I will share this information with you in my weekly newsletter (sign up here).
Use the information as you wish, as long as your audience recognises it.
Get your own daily positive mantras from me for free on Amazon Echo.
Self-Care comes in lots of different forms, but the one thing I work on all the time is monitoring the voice in my head. Everyone has a good voice and a bad voice. The bad voice is the one that tells you you aren’t a good enough presenter, or that you don’t deserve to be in the studio, or that that mean tweet from a listener was right. This is the voice that needs to be kept in check. So, I have devised some daily audio for you (for free) to give you some positive strategies to build your self-care. It’s called “Everyday Positivity” and you can find it on Amazon Echo.
In case you have no idea what I am on about! The Alexa Flash Briefing is a clever bit of smart speaker technology on the Amazon Echo Dot. You can create your own mini audio programme, by selecting different ‘Flashes’ to build your own daily briefing. This can comprise of news and comedy, to nuggets of marketing advice and of course, an daily injection of positivity. There’s thousands of content options to choose from.
Why am I doing this?
I always want to be sure that I am trying out the latest listening technology so I can share my experiences with you, and then in turn you can feel that you have an edge. Over the next few weeks I will share how I go about making this piece of audio, and ways that you can add it to your repertoire. We’re only seeing the beginning of what this technology can do for the radio and audio industry – it’s a very exciting time for us!
Everyday Positivity everywhere?
If you haven’t got an Amazon Echo, do not despair! I’m exploring ways to get this slice of daily positivity onto other platforms, so watch (or listen!) to this space. Also, do keep an eye on my Instagram for some fancy audio clips from Everyday Positivity and other stuff that I’m up to, that I’m sure you’ll love – follow me here.
Spread the positivity
I’ve also created a facebook group, where you discuss the ideas I’ve raised in Everyday Positivity and share your own motivational wisdom. Join the group here.
If you do find it on your Echo and love your daily dose of positivity – please could you pop a review here for me? ReviewEverydayPositivity.com.This is the best way I can get this to even more people.
I can’t wait to hear what you think or even how you are exploring this latest technology. Drop me a line and I’d love to hear all about it.
Let’s be clear straight up: when you put yourself out there (on stage, on air, on screen), you are putting yourself in a position to serve others and to do that you have to be in a good place mentally and emotionally.
If you then start thinking about how speaking in public isn’t refined to the stage, it occurs in meetings or pitches or networking, you can start to understand why looking after yourself will affect your performance every day.
Self Care is vital to ensure you nail it (and it feels good too). Here are 5 things I prescribe.
1) Congratulate yourself 3 times every morning
How you talk to yourself is how you will behave. If you tell yourself that the crowd will hate you, you will end up uncomfortable on stage and behave in a way that the crowd end up dispondant and then it’s not a big distance for you to convince yourself you were right: they hate you.
So every morning as your feet hit the floor tell yourself 3 things you’re proud of or grateful for make this a habit.
2) A bag of spinach
You are what you eat. I know it’s a cliche, and I am the first to admit I over eat and my relationship with sugar is somewhere between complicated and destructive BUT….
When you eat well, you perform well. Sugar has a tendency to make you sleepy and if you are sluggish on stage your audience will feel it too.
I eat a lot better than I used to and one of the things that has improved my diet massively is a handy bag of spinach.
If I am in a rush or out for a meal I will add a handful of spinach to my plate. It means I know I am getting the right amount of good food in my system and I can stay on the go too.
Find your “bag of spinach” option and feel yourself get better!
3) Funtake (Fun Intake)
I read so many things that say “you can’t succeed if you’re watching loads of TV. Here’s the thing: you will succeed if you manage your feel good.
During the last bout of depression my counsellor told me to do something I loved every day. And I’m not the only one. Bryony Gordon talks about the same thing in her book “Mad Girl”, and a friend of mine was prescribed the same thing.
Its basically the act of in-taking joy : Funtake.
Do something that brings you joy every day. For me this is a box-set on Netflix, or a course on Udemy or a podcast.
4) Make your day work for you
Turns out I am an early riser. Who knew? All those years I convinced myself I was a night owl and then I had babies and I am a lark after all.
Discovering I am a morning person means I get rewarded with seeing things like this majestic horse at the top of this post, when I’m on holiday
I’ve also discovered my best work is done in the morning. But if I book a client session in in the afternoon I really slump ( see point 2 – this could also be overeating carbs at lunch!)
Putting hard edges in your day means saving the best time of day for your most important work. Allow yourself to try things and work out what time of day is best for you – then plan around it.
5) Make your night work for you
The science shows that you should be getting 7 hour of sleep a night minimum. Anything under that means you are not functioning at your full capacity. And the scary this g is that you don’t know that you aren’t – you think you:re fine!
Now shift work, and heavy work loads, sometimes make this 7 hours impossible. I would still suggest you monitor it, and move as best you can towards it. Try going to bed 10 minutes earlier rather than trying to sleep later.
The problem with Self Care & building habits is that it’s really easy to get in to the “shoulds” of life. “I should be getting 7 hours of sleep…” can be as counter productive for some people as it is productive for others.
So the commitment has to be “do it one step at a time”. Form one habit (small) then add the next when you’re ready.
Take all of you, with your flaws, and just try to be better today than you were yesterday. A house is not built with one brick…
Hi, my name’s Kate Cocker, and I’m the Presenter Coach, and I have been working with radio presenters now for nearly 20 years, whether that be at grassroots, are at national, top of the game level.
I’ve worked with loads of presenters across that range, and the one thing that comes up all of the time, no matter whether you are at the top of your game or just starting out, is how to deal with criticism, because you know what? The minute that you put your head above the parapet, someone somewhere is going to think that it’s okay to text you at the studio, or to tweet you, or to put a Facebook comment, or something like that saying something like, “You’re a buffoon.”
And I’ve seen loads of radio presenters deal with this in loads of different ways.
Some radio presenters like to just ignore the text console in the studio, so they completely ignore it, and they let their producers give them the texts. Now, in some cases, that’s not possible because, in some cases, you don’t have a producer, so you kind of have to see the interaction coming into the studio. And it’s almost impossible to ignore it.
The other thing I hear a lot is presenters will go to their producers, or to their bosses, or people in the studio and they’ll go, this has happened, isn’t it awful? And the reaction is, oh, just ignore it! Which is really difficult, because it’s coming directly at you. It’s really hard to just ignore it.
But the one thing I would say is to try not to react with it.
I worked with one presenter who made a mistake on air, and it got misconstrued, and whipped up, and on Twitter, and it was so hard for him to not reply to those arguments and the things that people were saying about him on Twitter, which weren’t even true, but he just had to ignore it, because if he’d engaged, it would’ve just made it worse, and you can’t control the tone of voice that people are reading what you have written.
So, try not to engage with it.
However, I have heard of presenters, and I’ve worked with presenters who have called people back who texted them, and that has had varying degrees of success for them. But again, it’s not about shaming these people, so don’t put that call on air. Just maybe have a conversation with them and say, did you know that I got that? And most of the time their reaction is, oh my goodness, I’m so sorry, I didn’t think you’d see it.
Now, the one way that I have found that a lot of the presenters that I work with do really like, there are two ways to look at this, and both of them were pointed out to me by reading the work of Brene Brown, who is a vulnerability expert, shaming expert. Academically, she’s brilliant, and I really urge you to read her work. But there are two things that she says.
One is that, most of the time, judgement comes from a place of insecurity. In fact, it’s almost formulaic. The things that you judge people on are usually the things that you feel the most insecure about. So, I can pretty much guarantee to you that the text that’s come into the studio that says, “You’re a buffoon!” is from someone who is working really hard to not be a buffoon all the time. And you think about it now, the times that you have judged, you’re probably judging people on the things that you’re working really hard, or maybe you don’t really like about yourself.
So let’s apply some compassion, let’s apply some generosity to the way that those texts are received, and if someone is saying to you, “You’re a buffoon,” they’re probably not in a great place, whether they know that or not.
The second thing that Brene Brown drew to my attention was a quote by Theodore Roosevelt, which I think you’ll see it get passed around a lot, but it’s brilliant, so I’m going to read it to you now.
“It’s not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could’ve done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust, and sweat, and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deeds, who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who, at the best, in the end, will triumph by achievement, and at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
So what he’s saying is that you have taken a risk. You have put your head about the parapet. And if anyone is going to give you criticism, it needs to be from someone, and it needs to be feedback, and it needs to be constructive, from someone that you trust who is in the arena with you, whether that be a coach, whether that be your boss in a coaching environment, or whether that be from another presenter who has asked you if they can offer you some feedback.
Criticism is something that you can allow to roll off your back if it’s coming from a place where they are not doing the work that you’re doing, and they are not sat in that arena with you.
You deserve to be taking risks and only hearing criticism from people who are taking those risks with you, like you.
And I hope, and I’ve used this tonnes of times now, that actually what it does is it makes it really simple for the presenters that I work with, because they just go, right, I don’t need to listen to that anymore. Am I satisfying my customers’ needs? Yes, I am. Are they saying mean things about me? Well, that one is, and that’s okay, because that’s the only one that is in today, and you know what, they may be in a bad place, so I’m just going to ignore it, for want of a better way of putting it.
So, I really hope that those two things really help you with how you deal with criticism, and just allow it to roll off your back, because actually, you’re taking a risk, you’re putting yourself out there, and that takes a lot of courage, so you should be proud of yourself for that in the first place.
For more tips about radio presenting, or whether you want to be a better radio presenter, head over to my webpage at thepresentercoach.co.uk/radio, and there you can download the first module of my Better Presenter course, completely free.
Hi there, my name’s Kate Cocker, and I’m the Presenter Coach. I’ve been working with radio presenters now for the last, well, over 15 years, really. People at the top of their game, people just starting out.
So I wanted to share some of the tips and techniques that I’ve been using with those presenters. And one of the first things that I’ve really come across a lot, especially with my clients today, is about starting.
So is it that you aren’t presenting now, but you’d really, really love to be a radio presenter? Or it might be that you’ve been presenting in music radio, for a really long time, but you’d like to make the transition into talk radio.
In both cases, the biggest tip that I can give you is start doing what it is you want to do. So, if you’ve never done radio before, make sure that you get onto the radio. Make sure that you’re broadcasting regularly. You can do this by going to a community radio stations, there’s a great little system called Upload Radio, where you can pay to put your show together and they upload it to their internet radio station. There’s a ton of internet radio stations, probably in your local area, and worse come to worse, you’ve always got podcasting, and that’s a great option.
So get broadcasting, get doing, listen, and get yourself some feedback. If you’re transitioning from something like music radio into talk radio or sports broadcasting, the same applies. Get yourself into a position where you are making sporting or talk radio, and you’re broadcasting in that way.
Because the thing you’re gonna need is content to send to program controllers to convince them that you’re trustworthy, and you’re also gonna need the opportunity to just get better at it, and you can only do that by putting in the time.
If you want some more tips and trick to help you craft the skills that you’ve got for radio presenting, then check out my online course at thepresentercoach.co.uk/radio.
Press play on the video below to watch my presenting tips to slow yourself down.
Hi there, my name’s Kate Cocker, and I’m The Presenter Coach. I’ve been working with radio presenters, now, for over 15 years, whether it be producing, or coaching them, to be better on air. But my biggest thing is, that you get to be the best that you can be, and you have all the tools to do that, and all the skills to do that.
Now, I was in the supermarket the other day, and one of the guys in the supermarket had seen one of my videos, and said to me, “Kate, Kate, Kate, Kate, Kate,” his name was Abs, “I need you to help me with something. “I’m on the radio. I’m on at Reform Radio, and I want to improve my pace because I speak really fast.”
Now, pace is something that comes up a lot and, in fact, three times this week, I have done this exercise that I’m going to share with you now, that will help you with improving the speed you’re talking at.
So, most of us speak very quickly, when we’re with our friends and we’re very excited, and we’re talking with our friends. And on air, that doesn’t always translate to something that’s legible. Some people drop their T’s and all the words merge together. And it’s really important that people can really understand what you say.
The one reason that listeners will turn off is if they can’t understand what’s going on, like when the phone crackles, when the call is on, and lots of pick listeners will go, “Oh, I can’t hear it; I’ll turn off.” And if you’re speaking too quick, that’s going to have a similar impact.
So, there are two things that you can do.
First of all, let the silence in
So, when you are doing your presenting, and you’re doing your links, or when you’re doing a monologue, even, if you’re on talk radio, it’s, sometimes really powerful to just let the silence in. And I’m not talking about extending the end of your sentence. I’m just talking about: Let the silence in.
It works with guests as well. If you’ll pause, they’ll fill the space. But for this, you just need to slow your words down, slightly, and let the silence in at poignant moments.
The second exercise that you can do, and you can do this at home, you can do this any time, but I urge you to really push yourself, is to…
Practice slowing down
So, let’s talk about it on a scale. Let’s say that your speed, if you’re speaking on the radio, should be about a five, so you’re speaking at a really nice pace.
When you hear the terms and conditions guy at the end of a radio advert, or even a podcast pre-roll, and that’s speaking this really quickly, that’s 10. Most of us probably speak about a 7 or an 8 when we’re with our friends, or we’re chatting away.
So, you’re aiming for a 5. But five can be a really difficult place to find. And it can feel really uncomfortable when you first start doing it, as with all things. So, what I do with my clients, is I get you to extend your vowels, and really slow down to about a 1 or a 2.
So, for example, let’s get some tips out of the book. Okay, so the sentence is: When you understand this point, a whole world of topics opens up for you. With enough research, you can become an expert on any topic.
So, then I would ask you to slow right down. So, you go: When you understand this point, a whole world of topics opens up for you. And then, I would say, “Slower.” And I think I can go slower.
It’s a really great exercise. And I work with my clients, and I just keep saying, “Slower,” until I get to the point where there’s a little giggle and I know that they’re really uncomfortable. And then, what happens is, you go back to asking them to read the sentence and it goes to normal, a good pace.
You suddenly feel more comfortable because you stretched yourself into being really uncomfortable; you’re now more comfortable speaking slightly slower. So, if you’re having trouble with pace, two things:
Add some pauses, get some space into what you’re saying; and
Practice that exercise where you are really slowing down the words, so you feel really uncomfortable, so when you go back to speaking normally, it doesn’t feel as uncomfortable to speak this pace of 5.
So, you’ve go to find your 5, and then you can move forward from there.
Well, I hope that’s been of use. I hope that’s been helpful for you. If you want more tips and techniques on how to be a better presenter, whether that be on the radio, or podcasting, or even on stage, then you can go to thepresentercoach.co.uk/radio, where you’ll find my online training course for radio presenters and can get the first module, completely for free, if you sign up.