Talking About Yourself On Air: The Right Way To Do It
February 2, 2016
It's not uncommon to hear programmers say "you need to share your life with your audience." The belief is that, in order, to build an emotional bond with the listener, there has to be a connection between the host and the listener. As humans we seek to belong. We find safety, security and comfort when we feel like we belong. When we fit in. We seek out people who share similar values, thoughts and views as us.
The thinking is accurate. I can't deny that. If talent share themselves on the air in a way that allows the listener to think 'they're just like me,' 'I think that way' or 'I can understand where they are coming from,' then a connection is beginning to emerge. It is in these moments that you begin relating to and establishing association with your listener. You have gone beyond simply being a voice booming out of the speaker to someone who we start to understand and appreciate. We don't connect to generic voices; rather we connect to other humans. Connection occurs when we can comprehend and empathize with another person. Sharing aspects of yourself on the air is crucial if you want the audience to get to know you, and getting to know you is the first step to being liked or loved by someone.
The thinking may be flawless, but all too often the execution fails to establish the intended connection. We misunderstand what it means to 'talk about ourselves.' Talent focuses on sharing their lives instead of sharing their emotions. To connect with an audience you first need to recognize the difference between being personal and being open.
When you are being personal you tell others what is happening in your life. You spend time talking about what you like to do, where you are from, how many kids you have, how long you've been married. You talk about yourself. You're sharing personal details about your life. The audience is learning about you in a factual way.
When you are being open you are telling others about what you think, feel and desire. You are talking about your emotions. You are revealing the inner workings of you as a human. To be open means to be vulnerable, and willing to share your authentic reactions to the world. You are revealing yourself in the here and now. Being open is about granting the listener an AAA pass to your life.
To make a strong connection you need to be open, not necessarily personal. Being personal is about exchanging information about your life; think of it as pulling back the shower curtain and stepping out of the shower with a towel wrapped around your body. People can see you, they just can't see what's underneath. Being open is about allowing people to see who you really are. It's like pulling back the shower curtain and stepping out of the shower completely naked. You are exposed to the audience. Nothing is hidden. They can see all of you.
To make a connection with the audience, you must be willing to be unequivocally open with them. Every time the mic is on. You need to inject some of your authentic self into the content. You must share your personal reaction to the content. Your feelings. Your thoughts. Your opinion. Your views. Let the audience know the real you. The emotional you. We are drawn to people who are willing to 'let us in.' It is the exchange of our thoughts, feelings and opinions that leads to connection.
Being open doesn't exclude you from being personal. Powerful radio can - and often does - come from personal stories. However, simply relaying the story won't create connection with your audience. It is the openness of the storyteller that ensures the story connects. It is the revealing of your genuine reactions that people appreciate and gravitate toward as your story unfolds. If the story you share doesn't reveal to the audience some of the inner workings of you - who you are, what you are struggling with, what you feel, and your insecurities - its potential isn't reached and it won't connect.
There is a drawback to being open. Openness will lead to judgment. People may not like what you have to say or even agree with you. People may think differently than you and that is to be expected. In fact that is to be encouraged. As you go about your life, you're not friends with everyone you meet. You don't socialize regularly with everyone you know. Often that's because you don't share the same thoughts, beliefs and values with those people. You don't need everyone to like you. Far from it... but you do need people to know you. The only way they will get to know you is if you're willing to be open with them, regardless of what they may or may not think afterwards.
Talent should talk about themselves on the air! It's essential to building a relationship with the audience. Talent needs to understand that it's about being open more than it is being personal.
Ask yourself, what do I feel about that? What do I think about that?