"The best speakers know enough to be scared. The only difference between the pros and the novices is that the pros have trained the butterflies to fly in formation". Edward R. Murrow - A famous Radio and Television Commentator
For most speakers, an invitation to appear as a guest on a radio talk show is enough to send shivers down their spine. This fear is deeply entrenched in their communication anxiety, inadequate public speaking skills, and lack of self-confidence. Social research also validates the finding that public speaking is still the number one fear, more than the fear of death, for the majority of Americans.
However, for the 21st century, radio communication continues to emerge as the most popular, efficient and vital tool to inform, disperse knowledge and build public relations. Entrepreneurs use it as a popular medium to advertise products and services. A study conducted in 2013 by Arbitron and Edison, a research company, shows that, "digital resources such as on-line media and television do not replace radio usage - rather they enhance it." Research also authenticates that radio's accessibility continues to expand as the vast majority of listeners tune in to online and over-the-air radios.
An invitation to speak on radio indicates that the speaker is an expert on the subject and has valuable information to share. It is definitely a compliment to a speaker. However, the vital question is how to communicate the information in a confident and self-assured manner. To be a confident speaker it takes comprehensive preparation, practice and familiarization with the vital elements of radio speaking.
Preparation for a Radio Talk
Once an invitation to speak on radio is received, a speaker should clarify the fundamental information with the relevant authorities.
What are the goals and objectives of the talk? Is the speaker to give advice, to inform, to clarify issues or provide entertainment? What is the purpose of the radio communique?
Who is the host? What is the host's style? Is the speech a narrative or a conversation based on questions and answers?
Who may be the audience? What is their age group, their level of education, etc.?
The speaker should become familiar with the style and format of the program by listening to previous programs broadcasted by the same host, and by remembering the name and vital information about the host to personalize and add familiarity to the conversation.
Verify the length of the program and time allotted for interruptions and advertisements.
Notes and cue cards to site vital information should be within reach and be easily visible.
The speaker should be thoroughly familiar and comfortable with the microphone or other technology to be used during the program.
The speaker should provide vital information of his/her credentials, expertise and of professional status to the host of the show.
On the day of the program, the speaker should plan to get to the radio station earlier to relax and to avoid last minute crises.
The speaker could suggest questions to be asked during the radio talk. In addition, the speaker should do a dry run practice with another person before the show to see how their responses sound when given verbally rather than just practicing in the head.
Preparation of these fundamental points should help the speaker to be at ease, well prepared, and be confident to go on air to start the communication process.
Vital Elements of a Radio Talk
To deliver a successful radio talk, a speaker should observe the same vital elements as of any other public communication. Radio talk should have a clearly specified and well-defined introduction, body and conclusion. In the introduction, a speaker should briefly specify the objectives of the talk and its main points. The main points should be taken up for detailed discussion in the body of the talk. To conclude, a speaker should briefly review the main points to reinforce the information.
However, there are certain vital facts that differentiate a radio talk from any other public speech. Pertinent difference is the absence of physical presence of the audience, and not knowing who is listening. Thus, a speaker cannot establish eye contact, and there is no way to judge the reaction of the audience. There is also no immediate feedback unless the talk is followed by a question and answer session. Radio talk is not a visual media, so a speaker must rely on his/her imagination to generate enthusiasm, zeal, and seriousness.
The following suggestions would definitely help anyone to become a confident radio speaker:
The speaker should acknowledge the introduction by saying the name of the host, and expressing gratitude for the invitation to speak on radio. For example, "Rebecca, thanks for inviting me. I am glad to be here and to share this information with your audience."
Radio talk is not a seminar or a formal speech. It is usually informal and in a dialogue form between the host and the speaker. Thus, a speaker should be ready for several interruptions from the host or from the listeners if invited to join in the dialogue. The speaker may answer such question by stating the name of the host or of the caller such as, "Jim, I agree with what you said; however, the issue is..."
Voice inflection, pitch and articulation are of fundamental importance during radio talk. The speaker should avoid a monotone voice by raising and lowering the tone to emphasize vital points of the talk.
Vocal variety, as well as friendly, enthusiastic and sincerity of tone help to win the audience. To express excitement, the speaker should try to raise the voice volume, while lowering the voice volume helps to sound empathetic, dejected, or depressed. The speaker should try to raise the voice volume to sound excited or thrilled. Change in the tone makes the speaker sincere. Humor and wit can be used to make the talk interesting and appealing.
During the actual broadcast, it is best to stand to increase voice quality and attentiveness. Gestures and power poses definitely facilitate the ability to be a powerful speaker. According to Amy Cuddy, Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, "just by standing or sitting in a powerful pose you can increase your confidence."
During presentation, the speaker should smile to boost self-confidence and poise, even though a smile cannot be seen. According to Ron Gutman in his 2011 Ted talk, "The Hidden Power of Smiling," "smile can reduce the level of stress-enhancing hormones like cortisol, adrenaline and dopamine; increase the level of mood-enhancing hormones like endorphins; and reduce overall blood pressure."
The speaker should avoid using filler words such as, "you know, so, but, I mean, etc." Instead of using these filler words, slight pauses should be used. Appropriate pauses give a sense of authority and importance to a talk.
Any kind of noise such as from moving papers, eating and nervous clearance of throat should be avoided as the microphone will pick up those sounds and broadcast them.
The speaker may keep a glass of lukewarm water ready for emergency in case the mouth gets dry due to fear of public speaking or from communication anxiety.
The speaker should conclude the talk by thanking the host for providing the opportunity to speak on radio, and the listeners for tuning in.
To be a confident radio speaker, it all depends on a well-crafted, rehearsed and thoroughly practiced speech. If the speaker is prepared, and has followed the vital elements of radio speech then the speaker, can control the communication anxiety, eliminate fear of public speaking, and make the nervous butterflies fly in formation. Thus, become a confident radio speaker.
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