Friday, May 25, 2012

A Cure for "Talking Without Saying Anything"

It’s all too common to hear shows or stretches of shows where the talent doesn’t say anything of consequence. 

Sure, they may tell me about a blood drive, where to go to sign up for a contest, or how to listen online (BTW, do I really need instructions for that?). But none of this is why I tuned in. In fact, from a non-musical standpoint, it's the opposite of why I tuned in.

I recall a blog from my partner Jaye that included this quote from the late Jay Trachman about the consequences of non-connective talk as a substitute for content: 

"Ultimately, a survey-taker comes along and asks people what they like least about the station, and they'll reply, "The DJs talk too much!" They don't talk too much - they don't say anything worth hearing!

Back in February when Albright &O'Malley presented Roadmap 2012 (our annual online perceptual study), we noted again the importance of the connection between the country audience and the talent. In fact, mood enhancement ("makes me feel good when I listen") and talent were second only to music quality in station appeal.

Jacobs Media’sTechsurvey8 found similar results for radio overall as well as for country fans.
So what's required of a skilled conversationalist? How about:
  • Well-informed
  • Sympathetic
  • Interested in life
  • Has a sense of the dramatic
  • Moderate
  • Can draw out the other person
  • Attentive
  • Always in good humour
  • Has a sense of proportion
  • Doesn't preach
  • Doesn't take himself too seriously
  • Not argumentative
  • Original
  • Broad-minded
  • Charitable
  • Unselfish
  • Considerate
  • Flexible
  • Poised
  • Enthusiastic
  • A trifle whimsical

This isn't my list, it's Milton Wright's. He wrote this in “The Art of Conversation” ... in 1936.

We could argue over some of these of course, but for the most part, these comprise a pretty good skill set if your goal is connecting with listeners - or just being a good conversationalist. 

Try putting three of Milton's qualities together like "interested in life," "original" and "sense of the dramatic." Or "well-informed," "a sense of proportion" and "a trifle whimsical."

What an antidote for "talks too much while not saying anything."

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