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Brevity + Air Talent = Success

Thoughts from our Talent Coach, Gary Morland.

When an air talent hears advice to be brief and concise they can think two things to themselves (well, I did anyway):

1. “You don’t really think I’m that good and you’re trying to limit the damage.”

2. “How am I going to be able to say anything worthwhile?”

Brief is never seen as positive by the air talent. And often whoever is coaching really does mean #1.

But brevity is actually every brilliant air talent’s secret weapon. How? It takes advantage of an expectation “law” built into all humans:

We associate time with value.

The longer a break takes, the more it needs to be worth it for the listener to be satisfied. The longer they listen, then the higher the bar goes for their expectation of satisfaction.

It’s true. The listener subconsciously expects a higher payoff for listening longer! The payoff can be an emotion, information, inspiration, a laugh, an insight – anything that makes the listener feel satisfied. But the longer the break, the higher that satisfaction needs to be.

If the break ends with the listener feeling the length wasn’t worth it, they begin to get trained to tune out after the first few moments of hearing the talent’s voice. We all hate listeners tuning us out. It frustrates our desire for them to hear what we have to say.

We all love listeners tuning IN when they hear our voice. Satisfied listeners tune in and DO hear what we have to say.

So the shorter the break, the easier it is to satisfy the listener.

Briefer breaks that leave the listener satisfied over and over build credibility and affection for the air talent. Which helps for those times when a break IS longer.

Brevity is a secret weapon. Yes, an individual break contains less of what the talent has to say. But the listener hears a higher percentage of it, and the talent lets it add up break after break,

day after day. In the end, the listener hears MORE of what the talent has to say, because they haven’t tuned out longer unsatisfying breaks.

So, a great message for air talent to hear:

“Do this enough and the listener will love you and bond with you. They’ll cut you more slack for times when you don’t satisfy them. They’ll listen longer and tune out less. Ratings will go up, PD’s and GM’s will get happy, and your habit of brief satisfying breaks will have added up to a library of meaning and satisfaction for your listener. Then everyone does the happy dance.”

And it all started with “shorter breaks.” The secret weapon of brilliant air talents.

Want some help with your station…or for yourself? Contact Chuck at chuck@finneymedia.com.