Last Thursday night (November 6), the 76ers were on national television while playing the Magic in Orlando. It was an exclusive telecast, meaning our local telecast on Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia was not permitted. It gave me the chance to watch the game while sitting with and listening to Tom McGinnis, the 76ers outstanding radio play-by-play man. It was a chance for me to hear McGinnis reinforce the importance of a broadcaster communicating one-one-one with his or her audience.
McGinnis is one of the best in the business, conveying the descriptions and accounts of the game vividly for the radio audience. But one of his best qualities is a quality that all broadcasters should embrace, be they sports or news, radio or television. During brief stoppages in the action, McGinnis would digress, providing personal and at times intimate commentary of his views and opinions to the listening audience. His remarks were directed as if he was speaking to me, the guy next to him, as if we were a couple of guys sitting in the stands watching an NBA game. He wasn’t merely “broadcasting,” he was communicating. And there is a difference.
Broadcasting in my mind takes me back to the 40’s, where many a newscaster, sportscaster or radio performer would “bark out” a performance, as if he or she was speaking to an audience of thousands or even millions. While indeed that was the case then as it is now, it’s important to remember one thing: the viewer or the listener on the other end isn’t a thousand people; it’s simply one person, a person that’s receiving the message of a single person. And that message is most effectively communicated when it’s done in a personal, one-on-one style.
Admittedly, that’s not always an easy thing to do, especially when looking into a camera lens. It can be difficult to visualize that there’s actually a single person “out there somewhere” who’s watching you talk and listening to what you have to say. In this case, it’s incumbent upon the performer to indeed visualize such a scenario and to have your performance reflect this.
This is something that could take time to accomplish. If you’re an aspiring performer or even one who’s already employed in the business, watch or listen to your tapes with a critical eye and ear. Try to imagine yourself on the other end, impartially watching and listening to what you have to say. Ask other professionals to critique you as well and see if they perceive the image you’re ultimately looking for. That image would be of a true communicator, delivering a message in a clear, concise, personal manner that makes the viewer or listener feel that they’re the only one in the audience.
At www.marczumoff.com, we help those developing their broadcast performance careers to become personal, one-on-one communicators.
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