Tommy Kramer Tip #123 – Nonverbal Communication is very LOUD

It’s one of the basic tenets of acting: you have to LISTEN well. There are many reasons for it:

No matter how much you’ve rehearsed something, the other person in the scene may forget a line, or feed you a line that was supposed to come later (or earlier). Unless you’re paying attention, there’s this awful, pregnant moment when panic or shock hits you—and believe me, everyone in the audience knows it.

I’ve coached somewhere around 350 team shows and dozens of Talk shows that are caller-driven or guest driven, and it’s amazing how many times I’ve heard a host or partner that’s simply not paying attention. I’ve had to remind people that should know better not to text while they’re on the air, to take their eyes off the computer screen, and instead of only thinking about what your next comment will be, actually listen to what’s being said on the air.

After all, if you’re not paying attention to what your partner, a guest, or a caller is saying, why should the listener? Non-verbal communication is very loud. And people FEEL at least as much as they hear.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #111 – Analytics and You

Professional baseball is heavy into analytics, often referred to as ‘sabermetrics.’ They study every player’s performance in every possible situation, and make decisions accordingly.

As a PD or air talent today, PPM is our new sabermetrics drinking fountain. With all the new analytics—being able to see exactly where people lost interest during a break, the ratio of male artists to female artists, where spotsets should go, etc.—it can seem like data is making all the decisions. (And that’s not even counting the importance of an actual social media strategy.)

I like math. I was the little kid who could rattle off baseball players’ stats. Analytics are fun—and if you need an example of how they can be used, look at that dramatic “three players on the right side of the infield” shift in baseball today that drives most batters crazy. That’s a direct result of analytics making teams better by being smarter. (And “the shift” just looks so cool.)

So dive on in! Use every single tool that can tell us what the audience wants (and what’s ineffective, too). Personally, I’ve made an effort to absorb as much as I can about the workings of PPM from people who are much smarter than me, with the sole goal of keeping on learning, moving forward, all the time.

However, from a coaching perspective, let me add this:
All the analytics in the world won’t help you be different, be original, or make that person in the car or office think of you as a “must” listen. You still have to MATTER to the listener, or you’re just the voice interrupting the playlist. More on that in the next tip.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #106 – Answers = Power

In May of 2015, Google began running an ad that started with “a question is the most powerful force in the world.” But they couldn’t be more wrong. An ANSWER is the most powerful force in the world.

I’ve talked before about avoiding the Question form, and making Statements instead. Thinking that questions are “a powerful force” is fool’s gold. No one wants to ask a question, only to get another question in reply.
Example:
“How much are these beets?”
“How much do you think they should cost?” is not a helpful response. Great marketers know that asking the public what they want doesn’t really work, because people can only describe what they think they want in terms of what they’ve already seen. Apple didn’t ask people if they wanted an iPad. They just made them, and let the world come—rapidly—to the conclusion that this new product would make their lives easier. (And that’s why Google isn’t Apple. And by the way, what MADE Google was that you ask, and they provide the answer.)

In your Imaging, in your commercials and promos, and in your air work, give your listener an answer.

Warning: Everyone thinks he can do this, but then, at first, tends to fail miserably when he tries. Let me help you with the techniques, and we can weed this out in a hurry. I promise you that you’ll see the power of it in no time.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #104 – Hearing/Listening

I‘ve heard jocks complain that they didn’t get any calls or emails or Facebook posts when it was expected. This seems odd to me, like a playwright complaining that the audience in the theater didn’t get a joke.

It’s easy to just say “they heard, but they didn’t listen,” but that’s
the wrong end of the binoculars, because it’s about your agenda. We should be considering the possibility that “they were listening, but they didn’t hear,” because that puts the responsibility where it really belongs—on us. If the message isn’t getting across, then we need to do a better job of getting it across.

Besides the fact that people are busy and have lives, I think there’s always a reason why someone doesn’t really hear something. Assuming out front that what you’re talking about is on target, then you have to consider that (1) maybe it’s just not clear, or (2) that the way you did it just wasn’t as compelling as it could have been.

When you put maximum effort into the precise wording and emotional investment you’ll need to make someone actually pay attention, you’ll be far more likely to get the results you want. (Vocabulary is crucial.)
If you don’t really want to dive into it that deeply, you can still be pretty good—but you can’t be great.

Treat every time you open the mike like your career depends on it, because it actually kinda does.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #95 — A tip from Kareem

A lot of the stuff I coach comes from other sources—great actors, great musicians, great athletes.

One of the people I’ve looked up to (no pun intended) for a long time has been basketball’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In his college career at UCLA, his coach was the legendary John Wooden, and later with the “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers, Kareem played for the ultra-intense Pat Riley. Their imprints on Abdul-Jabbar are obvious, and here’s something that “the Big Fella” said recently that you might want to take to heart:

“Complacency sits right in there with Confidence, so you’ve got to get rid of the complacency and work on being confident because you’re prepared, and not just because you think you’re good.”

Good ratings, a nice salary, growing accustomed to being recognized—all of these things can create complacency. So NEVER open the mic without being prepared. As Kareem said, Confidence comes from knowing you’re ready. If you’re not, someone who is prepared every break may be working against you. The easiest way to beat the competition is to just outwork them.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #75 – Your 5th best thing

Lately, I hear a lot of people doing things on the air that frankly, they’re not very good at. Traffic reporters trying to be “personalities”. People trying to tell stories, even though they never seem to have an ending—or sometimes even a decent beginning. Jocks putting their hard-to-understand, marble-mouthed children on the air thinking that it’s “cute”.

It’s easy to think that being good at one thing means that you’re automatically going to be good at other things. But of course that’s not always the case. (Michael Jordan trying to play baseball comes to mind. Not pretty. His Airness became His Waving A Bat At The Air-ness.)

Here’s the way it works in radio, my friend: No one tunes in to hear you do your 5th best thing. Or even your 3rd.
Often, my early work with a talent is simply about shoring up fundamental stuff that may need work, that you may have never learned, or that you were taught wrong. But after that initial stage, I think the next job as a talent coach is to identify your biggest strengths—just one or two things—and then whittle it down to where that’s all you do.

So if you genuinely want to be a great air talent, start by asking yourself these two questions, in this order:
1. What am I good at?
2. Really?

Be honest. If you don’t know the answer to those questions—and most people don’t—you need a coach.

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Tommy Kramer
Radio Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2014 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #61 – You can skip to video in…..

Thanks to my friend Randy Brown for this thought:
Often, when you select a You Tube clip, it starts with a commercial. In many instances, a message pops up in the lower right portion of the screen that says “You can skip to video in…” and then it counts down 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1, then you click it to get to what you actually wanted to see in the first place.

That’s the way people think when they listen to you. You start talking, and in the listener’s head, the 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 countdown begins.

Get on into it, or the listener “clicks” mentally—or sometimes even physically—and isn’t hearing you anymore. It’s just “blah-blah-blah” noise in the background. So you want to connect the Subject to the Listener as concisely as you can.

We have to EARN EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF LISTENING that we get. You do not deserve being listened to just because your transmitter is on.

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Tommy Kramer
Radio Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2014 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #56 – The Barney Fife Method

Barney Fife, the classic Don Knotts character on the old Andy Griffith Show, probably never thought he’d become a role model–at least not for radio. But that’s exactly what happened.

Sure, many radio jocks share Barney’s ego, bravado, nervousness under pressure, taking rules too seriously (or ignoring them), trying to pretend you know more than you actually do, bad singing voice, and rather vague knowledge of the human anatomy (“the obondalla isn’t in the leg, Ange…it’s in the brain”), but the passing on of the “idiot torch” is not what made him a role model. It’s that in his shirt pocket, this fearless deputy, this symbol of law and order, this staunch upholder of the people’s rights carried…his one bullet.

Barney Fife was given only one bullet by Sheriff Andy Taylor (and told to just keep it in his pocket until he needed it) for a simple reason—to keep Barney from shooting his foot off.

It’s the same for you. We’ve all heard the “ONE thought per break” rule. But under that ‘umbrella’ heading are two additional guidelines: One STORY per break, and/or one EXAMPLE per break. This is the Barney Fife Method, one “bullet” per break.

As a listener, I may love ice cream, but I can’t eat two banana splits.

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Tommy Kramer
Radio Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2014 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #53 – Is there something going on here?

Let’s make this short and sweet. When I tune you in, is there something going on here? Or is there nothing going on here?
If you think just playing the music and constantly promoting stuff will work, welcome to mediocrity.

Any idiot can intro a song. Any idiot can read a liner or plug the website, or read something from the internet that the listener can get on his or her smart phone in three seconds.

I used to think of my show as “The Adventures of Tommy Kramer” (or one of the five different morning shows I was part of). Like Seinfeld in the 90’s or Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory now, each show was an episode in itself, pertaining to THAT DAY.

Yes, the listener wants companionship, but not with someone who’s bland or boring. Whether it’s evident in your research or not, the listener wants a show.
DO SOMETHING, instead of doing nothing. Try stuff. You’ll be surprised at the results.

If you need help, call me. With a little coaching, you can jump start (or rejuvenate) your career. Every professional athlete or actor you admire has a coach.

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Tommy Kramer
Radio Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2014 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #39 – “Staging” Music

Let’s talk about “staging” music—music that you might want to put under a break to enhance it.

First, ask yourself if you really need music for this break. It’s odd, when you think about it. If I meet you for lunch, I don’t just automatically plop a boom box down on the table and play music under our conversation. Often, jocks just reach for some piece of music with the mistaken notion that it “keeps the momentum” better. It can help momentum, but the wrong choice of music will NOT help the break, and having a music bed can make you lazy, since you’re not as sensitive to whether the break is moving along crisply or not.

Generic music = generic break. Grabbing some random uptempo cut from the Production library is silly, since it may not fit what you’re talking about. Now if you’re talking about baseball, it makes sense to “stage” it with music from “The Natural” or “Field of Dreams”, or an instrumental version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” But if it’s just some Production music piece chugging along in the background, it may not be actually adding anything.

Here’s the right way to think of it. Use music that’s either…
(1) SUBJECT-specific (Star Wars music to talk about a discovery in space, the Olympics theme to talk about the games, music from a Western movie to talk about a local rodeo, etc.)

or…

(2) MOOD-specific. Movies are full of music designed to “cradle” the emotion of a scene. (I’m not talking about songs included on a movie soundtrack. I mean the “incidental” music that helps create tension, or sets the stage for the action that will follow. And there are many scenes without music, because music would take away from what’s happening onscreen.)

If you use music wisely, your show will sound even more polished and produced. If you use it as a “crutch” habit, your show will sound more “paint by numbers” and stagey and artificial. I think the best advice would be that if you can find music that’s just right, use it. But if you can’t, then don’t use music that break.

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Tommy Kramer
Radio Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2014 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.