Here are a few quick suggestions for anyone doing TV Play-by-Play for the first time.
You’ll be reminded about the key fundamentals to great baseball broadcasting, and learn advanced techniques for setting yourself apart in one of the most competitive genres of sports broadcasting. You’ll also hear samples demonstrating how to best execute these techniques.
Have you ever sat in your car to hear the end of an exceptionally entertaining interview? In this guide you will learn the common mistakes to avoid so you deliver similarly captivating interviews to your audience!
When I was a talk show host on ESPN Radio Network in the early 2000’s, ABC/ESPN hired a man who extensively studied interviewing techniques. He noticed several common habits that potentially sabotaged the quality of the interview. He named these bad habits the Seven Deadly Sins and ABC/ESPN began teaching them to all of their radio and TV air talent.
This guide is based upon the Seven Deadly Sins, with some personal tweaks to make them even more relevant. Also please be clear, the Seven Deadly Sins are far from the only “rules” for doing great interviews.
Deadly Sin #1: Not Asking a Question
You’ve probably heard interviewers say “talk about” roughly one million times. Don’t do it. Not asking a question allows your guest to go whatever direction he wants, and it’s likely not the direction you want.
Not getting an answer is awkward for everyone. Avoid the uncomfortableness by always asking a question.
A common mistake many broadcasters make is taking the “I don’t have interviews, I have conversations” approach to interviewing. You must ask questions.
Deadly Sin #2: The Double-Barreled Question
Also known as the two-part question. If you ask two questions at once, the chances are great that only one will be answered. If both questions are worth asking, ask them separately.
Again, if both questions are worth asking, ask them separately.
Deadly Sin #3: Overloading
I have changed this from the ABC/ESPN definition. For me, overloading means talking too much. Overloading can cause the question to get lost. Ask your question in 10-seconds or less.
Wow — where were the questions in those samples??? They were in there somewhere but they got lost in all the verbiage.
Deadly Sin #4: Remarks
Don’t load up your questions with remarks. You may never get the answer to your question. Pin your guest down my simply asking the question to which you want an answer.
Deadly Sin #5: Yes-No Questions
Avoid asking questions that can be answered yes or no. Yes/no questions can severely limit response. It’s especially an issue with people who aren’t used to being interviewed (like high school athletes or kids), or people who prefer not to be doing the interview. Open-ended questions demand an explanation.
I remember pre-recording an interview Chike Ofeakor of the 49ers many years ago. He had no interest in being there and his answers reflected it.
An exception to the Yes/No rule would be if you are trying to create a dramatic moment. Ex: “Barry Bonds. Did you use PEDs?”
Deadly Sin #6: Answering Your Own Questions
You’ll have plenty of time before or after the interview to share your opinions or prove how much you know. Remember, the guest is the star. Less of you and more of the guest is a good thing.
An especially notable thing about the last example is that the guest is a black man, so the interviewer assumed the guest’s role models were also black. While you didn’t hear the replies in the sample, the guest told the interviewer his role models were Coach K. and Bobby Knight. Not only had the interviewer guessed at his guest’s answer, he guessed wrong.
Deadly Sin #7: Hyperbole
Comics use hyperbole effectively and it is effective in advertising. However, it is a bad thing to do in an interview. Most folks are embarrassed to be put on a pedestal. The more you overstate the greatness of your guest and/or their accomplishments, the more they are going to downplay their reply.
That answer was not edited. That is all there was. The guest may have been somewhat embarrassed about being put on the pedestal and he wanted to get down as quickly as possible.
Deadly Sin #7.5: Name the One
I added this to the list after hearing it too many times. Avoid asking your guest to name the most memorable moment of his career or his favorite teammate of all-time. Most folks want to contemplate their answer for more than the three seconds you are giving them. As a bailout, they frequently say, “I can’t think of just one.” Instead of, “name the one,” ask, “What is one of?”
How acceptable are “one thing” questions when they’re more along the lines of “one bit of advice for Audience X”?
Asking someone for a piece of advice is acceptable. Still, it would be better to ask for a specific piece of advice.
I know I find it frustrating when someone asks me, “Do you have any advice for my career?” Well yes. I can spend the next year sharing advice with you. What specifically do you want advice about? Demos? Resumes? Football play-by-play fundamentals?
Being specific is always better.
On the “tell us about” questions- how would you propose asking Sidney Crosby about how he did score the game winning goal in overtime?
What specifically do you want to know about the goal? His mindset? What was the play designed to do? His thought process as sprinted towards the net? Be specific.
Just ask yourself, what specifically is it that you want to know. Instead of, “tell me about your birthday party,” how about…
- Who attended
- Where was it?
- Why did you choose that location?
- What kind of cake did you have?
- What presents did you receive?
These techniques are applicable in major, mid-sized and small markets. If you do these things well, it will give you a tremendous advantage over broadcasters who might have more experience.
When it comes to ratings, many hosts mistakenly consider only how many people are listening. You also need to be thinking about how long those folks are listening and how many times you are enticing them do tune in each day and each week. It’s called TSL – Time Spent Listening – and it is a critical yet largely neglected ratings component.
Some great news for you: TSL is easy to increase. The key to building TSL is…
Giving your listeners something they can’t hear anywhere else is the key to your success. Read on for ideas on how to do that.
Knowing everything about sports by itself isn’t going to get you paid. Being entertaining will. Sharing tips with you about how to do that is what today’s event is about.
Your STAA Talent Page is the online home of your demo and resume. Think of it as a one-stop shop that makes it simple and easy for employers to get the info they need about you.
These tips will help you utilize your Talent Page to its fullest potential.
If you want to advance your football play-by-play career from high schools to college, from small college to major college, or from major college to the NFL, this live chat will provide you the game plan for how to do it. You’ll also hear samples demonstrating how to best execute a variety of techniques.
To lend insider advice, we turned to an experienced hockey broadcaster for Q&A. Mark Binetti is the Voice and Director of Media Relations for the Rapid City Rush of the ECHL.