By Bram Weinstein/@RealBramW:
Learning your voice is a difficult process and it cannot be manufactured. When you put together a piece, especially when you’re starting your career, listen to it.
Does it sound like you? Are you happy hearing yourself deliver this message in this fashion? Are the adjectives you are using words you would normally use or are they ones you found in a thesaurus to attempt to make yourself sound smart?
In my experience, many broadcast professionals are more then willing to listen and/or watch your work. In the early stages of your career, you must take advantage of this. Obviously not everyone will be willing to help or will take the time to really pay attention to it, but some do. Go to those whose work you trust and ask them to give you feedback. You will be amazed at the little points they will make to you that can make all the difference in the world.
Are you not using enough inflection to emphasize the most important point you want viewers to remember? Are you reading too quickly for the listener to digest the information or too slowly that in turn could make someone tune out?
What you must understand is this craft is an art and like any art, there is nothing that denotes perfection. This craft must be worked on and tinkered with your entire career. Different pieces will carry different levels of levity and tone. Your voice must match each of those scenarios and none are the same.
Most novice broadcasters need to SLOW DOWN. Just like reading a book, some are slower then others at getting through the material. Remember, in broadcasting you are not trying to get through the material as quickly as you possibly can, you are trying to send a message to your viewer. Thus, reading like you are talking to a child works if you are on PBS on a Saturday morning, but doesn’t for the 11PM Sportscenter.
The best medicine for finding your voice is writing about anything. Write about things that interest you. This could be anything from your favorite sports team to the general qualities that you enjoy about various beers, vacations, dance, parenting-it doesn’t matter. Write about what interests you and then read back aloud what you wrote. Now ask yourself:
Does this sound like you? If you are happy with where your writing is, you will then find it easy to read it to an audience. Now have you done this in a succinct manner that keeps up with the fast pace of broadcasting?
If you are hosting Masterpiece Theater, long winded stories of yesteryear fit the criteria of verbose prose. But even long form magazine shows like 60 minutes utilize crisp concise writing around the interviews of each piece. Rarely will you hear a voice over longer then 20 seconds.
Now that this all starts to sound like you, let more seasoned professional ears hear it. If you are embarrassed by this, then I ask … how do you expect to go on national TV and deliver it to an audience? This artform deserves critical feedback, it’s the lifeblood of your career. I am consistently seeking the advice and counsel of broadcasters whose work I am particularly fond of. Many of them do not write or deliver anything like the way I do it. But that’s OK. The object isn’t to emulate these people. The object is to be the best you possible. This is how you will craft YOUR voice, not the voice of the person you grew up hoping to be.
Check out clips from my career … from radio to TV. Share your thoughts on how my broadcast voice voice has grown over the years.
Come out on JANUARY 30TH … in NYC … and work with me and other broadcasting vets at our ‘Inside Network Sports Broadcasting’ Workshop. You can enroll here. You can also contact me at Bram@reel-reporting.com for information on speaking engagements or if you have general feedback to the blog.
You can follow Bram on Twitter: @RealBramW
Subscribe to Bram’s Podcast TALKING HEADS on iTunes.