“What I value is the naked contact of a mind” – Virginia Woolf
I was scrolling through an Instagram story feed recently, still half asleep and trying to will myself out of bed on day one hundred and twenty seven thousand of COVID 19 lockdown. I stumbled across a story from a friend of mine who uploaded a stock image about human connection. I wasn’t particularly moved by the image, it was a fairly bland typical Instagram white girl re-post. What did strike me was the caption she posted with it, the sentiment focused on how much she missed human contact. If I’m honest I only follow her because she occasionally posts semi provocative images on her account, but the feeling of missing human contact resonated with me profoundly. I miss it too.
As broadcasters we aim to provide human contact every time we turn on our microphones. When we achieve it, the feeling is unrivaled for both broadcaster and listener. Because of the immediacy of radio the human connection element is sometimes forgotten. We get caught up in trying to sound smooth or cool and very rarely think about how what we are saying is making the other person at the end of the connection feel. During your prep process in these times of lockdown, here are a few tips to remember when trying to achieve human connection.
Telling the truth or being real, trumps sounding smooth 99.9% of the time. Your listener can smell fake synthetic prep from a mile away. Stop trying to regurgitate what everyone else is doing and put your own flavour behind what you are saying, if something pisses you of say so. Stop hiding behind the facade of trying to be everyone’s best friend.
It’s okay to be vulnerable. Your listener feels emotions just like you do. If you expose yourself just a little, your listener will appreciate it more than you think. During lockdown we have seen multiple famous people "strip” down and show us what they look like without makeup. Perhaps it’s time you stripped away the covers too?
Let the technology do the work. Radio is an extremely personal form of media, you don’t need to have a million processed sound effects in your show to spark a connection, and sometimes the simple sound of your voice works way more effectively than you think.
Be human yourself. At some point in your career somebody deemed you interesting enough to put you behind a radio microphone and listened to what you had to say. For me one of the most fascinating things about social media in the quarantine age is how many people think they are interesting enough to go live. But then copy almost word for word what other people have already done.
What makes you interesting isn’t who you follow on social media or how many million WhatsApp voice notes you can get in a show. What makes you interesting is also what makes you human. It’s the weird things that you like, it’s your insecurities, it’s the way you see the world. Show your listener those interesting things. That just might be what re-connects you to your listener as well.