Had a fun and unusual assignment last night. I worked for ESPNU at a local college basketball game as a “talent stat liaison” (I made up the job title). Basically, I was feeding stats and interesting tidbits, records, runs, and story lines to the guys in the truck and the play-by-play and color guy seated beside me. It was loads of fun, amazingly hard to keep the mind straight and keep up with all the rapidly-changing stats, and very educational on how live TV works.I was surprised at how much multi-tasking the on-air talent has to maintain. They are listening to each other and the producer in their headsets, watching the live game, watching the TV feed, watching the stat monitor, and trying to read my (very poor) handwriting while the crazy students are shouting in their ears. I was impressed by how cool they stayed when things they needed weren’t present just seconds before going on the air, how a chaotic process comes together and looks polished to the viewer, and how they had trained their voices to be so calm in the midst of the hubbubaloo (if that’s a word). As a stand-up trainer, I have it easy by comparison to speak clearly.At the end of the game, I asked the play-by-play guy how I could have improved my service to him. I thought it to be a fairly standard question, and one I frequently ask of anyone I am in contact with. From the look on his face, I can only guess that’s the only time he’s been asked that. After having perhaps his most non-fluid few words of the night, he finally gave a nice tip, worthy of blogging about. I was providing him great stuff but in my language. It took him a bit to decipher my code and symbology. He said that was the problem with not working with the same folk every night.But few of us have the luxury to always work with the same folk every night, so it’s a real problem. And just like Rule #1 implies, we need to make sure we speak THEIR language, and not just OUR language. The most intriguiging stat in the world is useless if it’s not understood. Likewise the most compelling product, the most life-changing sermon, and the most convincing argument.
- Speak only the language of the listener.
- Ask anyone who uses your services or hears you speak how you can get better.
P.S. Next time I’ll have preprinted 3×5 cards with stat lines, lead-ins, and a legend. Oh, and I need to practice my handwriting.