By Bram Weinstein/@RealBramW
You won’t sound the same in person as you do on the air, not until you find your voice. But that’s the goal. Early tendencies by novice broadcasters include speaking too quickly, lack of enunciation and formal sentence structures that don’t jive with the overall feel of the content and yelling.
I happened on a signature close to my radio reports while covering the NFL’s Washington Redskins while working in the D.C. market. At the top of each hour, I was responsible to supply a:20-:40 update on the daily happenings of the team. This would play in the top of the hour sports update anchored by a separate broadcaster. Its placement in the report would be subject to it s relative strength to the breaking news of the hour, but because it eventually was sponsored, it always aired.
This was not my first job on air but I was still quite green in terms of delivery. I almost always used a piece of sound in the report from one of the players or coaches I was covering to lend further credibility. My opinion would find it’s way into some of the pieces but in essence I wanted the reports to be the inside view from the locker room of the news or storylines of the day. By using sound though, I cut down the amount of time I could devote to my copy. So if the sound bite was :10-:15 seconds, you can see how an economy of words became paramount to the effectiveness of each report.
Initially, I had trouble with this aspect and was way too verbose. So I’d find myself racing through the copy to fit the time constraints. This was no more transparent then in how I closed each report:
“Covering the Redskins, I’m Bram Weinstein.”
Only it didn’t come off like that.. It sounded more like this:
I was rushing to get those finals words out. I didn’t do this on purpose, it was just a natural cause and effect of an inability to prepare information in a concise manner so I could avoiding rush reading. In real life, I’d never say my name like I was some Mark Twain character.
Now amazingly, this became a calling card for me. By my second or third season, fans who I would run into would always say my name back to me with that quick twang. Because it had taken hold as a part of the fabric of the report, I didn’t stop doing it, I actually made sure I continued to emphasize my name in this manner. But this was not planned. And it was a lucky break.
This type of signature cannot typically be made inorganically. Because I said my name that way and it was obvious it happened in an organic fashion, listeners agreed to let it continue and actually demanded it stay that way. But this is dangerous. I didn’t find my voice in that signature sign out, I merely learned a lesson about economy of words. I kept the sign out because it stuck, however the more important lesson learned was being forced to focus on was the rest of the voiced over content, where at times in the early stages of my career, were read at the same brisk pace. Listeners couldn’t keep up and digest what I was telling them. So I had to learn to use my voice, my delivery and my concise writing ability, all in the name of a :30 report.
I want to know when you found your voice and how? Email me at Bram@reel-reporting.com or tweet me @RealBramW. I’ll share your responses next week. Also, if you’re interested in coming out to get training with myself and Gerry Matalon, a former ESPN colleague in the talent department: Come to New York City on January 30th. You can sign up here.
For speaking engagements, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or me directly.