Knowing how to speak is important for both radio and television aspirants.
Broadcast performers often need to speak:
- conversationally, with authority and conviction
- clearly, with little or no stumbling
- without a distracting impediment or accent
- with the right tone and cadence appropriate to the situation
- while using correct grammar
For play-by-play folks, there are other issues such as:
- announcing versus talking
- the difference in cadence between different sports
- the right level of excitement
For everyone, there's the matter of your overall sports broadcasting persona—in a manner of speaking, finding your own voice; that way of performing which is truly your own unique style and no one else's.
Developing that broadcast persona is something that will evolve over time and continue to develop as long as you're a sportscaster, no matter your role. It's something you will "find" through trial and error as well as the natural evolution that comes with experience and the course of time. Your broadcast persona thus becomes a combination of:
- who you are as a person
- the styles of others you incorporate along the way
- the criticism you get from those who matter
- the vagaries presented by life itself
NBC's Costas says the greatest cliché in almost any walk of life is to act naturally. "It's easier said than done," says Costas, who has done both studio hosting and play-by-play. "I think you see a lot of people on air now who are trying to be characters. They think personality should be measured in decibel levels. You have to grasp the distinction between bombast and wit, between irreverence and mean-spiritedness. If you're naturally outgoing, it makes sense to be that way on the air. But there are a lot of [sportscasters] out there now who have decided on a shtick. I think you want to have a style, not a shtick. If you have a style and a little bit of personality and you get comfortable enough with the craft so that you have the nuts and bolts of it down, then you can get to the point where you're relaxed and at ease enough [to present] at least some authentic version of yourself. You then hope [viewers and listeners] get comfortable with that over time."
Golfers who want to work on their game have probably been to a driving range at least once. For a few bucks, one can buy a bucket containing several dozen golf balls, allowing them to hit shot after shot after shot.
This constant repetition (or "reps" as they say in football) is how golfers marry the intricacies of the swing itself to one's "muscle memory." In other words, teaching the brain to "memorize" the swing so that you don't have to consciously think about the swing while on the course, effectively allowing you to just "play the game."
Getting these reps is the first step toward developing a natural, conversational tone for sportscasting. This can be done by reading literally anything out loud including:
- Internet pages
- cereal boxes
- your own copy (of course!)
Simply take a digital recorder and start to read. Afterwards, listen critically to the recording. Have a trusted mentor or experienced broadcast performer listen as well and ask the following questions:
- Are you comfortable and relaxed?
- Do you have a discernible, potentially distracting accent?
- Are you breathing in the right places?
- Are you speaking diaphragmatically or from the nose and throat?
- I Are you projecting appropriately or do you sound too soft or too loud?
- Do you sound like you are conversational or like you are reading?