Seven Not-So-Secret Secrets to Getting People to Pay Attention
1. Read and understand your material.
If you don’t understand it, your audience probably won’t, either.
Answer all your own questions before you write a word.
2. Decide what the news is.
Why are you doing the story today?
Why wasn’t it in the news yesterday or last week?
3. Select the most interesting word or phrase.
Make that word or phrase the first element of your story, and let the story flow from there. (The news may not be the most interesting thing about your story.)
4. Make sure every sentence of your story relates somehow to the news.
If you think the audience needs some background information—some history—find a way to work it into a sentence or a series of sentences each of which advances the story. When you drop your guard and let slip a sentence that tells your listeners nothing they don’t already know, they may punch that button to another station. Make sure that, like those premium ice creams, every spoonful of your story contains a chunk of the good stuff—the news.
5. Write the way you talk—or, at least, the way you wish you talked.
Try not to use slang...but do use contractions (I’ll, she’ll, won’t, couldn’t) and do use the shortest, simplest words possible (“buy” instead of “purchase”; “build” instead of “construct”; “said” instead of “stated”). The more natural you sound on the radio, the more convincing you sound—the more you sound like someone explaining something you know, instead of reading something you don’t understand.
6. Don’t use unnecessary words.
Time is tight in broadcasting. Say “to” instead of “in order to”; “because” instead of “for the reason that.” If you repeat a word or phrase—especially at the end of one sentence and the beginning of the next—rewrite or reorganize your story to eliminate repetition.
7. Read your writing out loud.
If it doesn’t roll smoothly out of your mouth, can you make it easier to read?
Does it make sense? Does it start with the most interesting words?
© 1993, 2007 by Charles Meyerson