Dangling Conversation, Part II
December 24th, 2001
In the last installment, we talked a bit about the concept
of sounding conversational, and were going to continue
in that vein today.
Here is an exercise: take a piece of copy that you will read
before an audience of, say, colleagues, classmates, or friends.
Set up as a game, here is how you play: you begin reading
the copy, but at some set point in the copy, you begin to
ad lib, improvising on the story described in your copy. Your
audience is supposed to catch you ad-libbing.
As soon as they catch you improvising, they raise their hand,
and you stop improvising and pick up reading your copy where
you left off, until you can safely begin ad-libbing again.
The readers goal is to ad-lib as much and as far as
possible, the audiences goal is to determine when the
reporter is reading and when they are improvising.
Its a very hard game and few are really good at it!
After years of using this technique, here are the most important
observations my students have gleaned from the exercise:
1. There are two ways to be successful at this game: either
be a brilliant improviser, or read your copy like you are.
2. If you are a good improviser, you catch not only the sense
of the story and where it is going, but also the tone, the
mood, the style of the writing. Like I said, very few of us
are really good at this, but clearly, the skill is learnable.
3. More likely, if you read your copy AS IF YOU WERE IMPROVISING,
if you read in a spontaneous manner that makes it sound like
you are hearing and thinking those thoughts for the very first
time, you will undoubtedly be a better reader.
For most of us, this is by far the most fruitful way to read
our copy. Listen to the way you improvise, the way you pause,
hesitate and stumble. While we arent recommending that
you read all your copy this way, there is something about
the freshness, the genuine-ness of that kind of read that
can make it very compelling. I have collected samples of this
copy in my book Broadcast Voice Exercises which
we use in a classroom setting, and while this was not supposed
to be a shameless pitch to purchase a copy of the book, should
you be interested, dont hesitate to contact me.More
on conversational speech next installment. Until then, Seasons
Greetings, and keep breathing...