It comes down to prep…

Everybody SHOULD know that you perform better when you do some prep. Its almost cliche to point it out, but still I see and hear evidence of a lack of prep.

Now please understand, some prep is better than no prep, but a lot of people are not doing enough.

Firstly lets just map out what doing enough prep gives you. Confidence to perform. Knowing that you have not only prepped what you are going to do- with enough material ‘spare’ should you need it, but also you have prepped for the unexpected- the catastrophic and unplanned event which might need you to step up- all that means you can be totally confident in your delivery, performance and trust that you are in control. You will therefore do a great job. Are you THAT prepped?

Prepping for the unexpected is hard, because its… well unexpected. It actually doesn’t take much, but makes all the difference when its actually needed. I’ve witnessed a network failure which meant that the PC and broadcast network infrastructure failed. It meant presenters had to jump into take over the output of local stations in a network early and also had a severe restriction on what they could play. Local audio only would play and all ads, anything played off any remote server was not responding. It forced thinking on your feet and then the back up prep can into focus. Those who had a bank of material coped really well and took it in their stride, confident that they could deliver material whilst technology colleagues focussed on getting every back up and running.

Even without the unforeseen events, having more than enough prep gives you the ability to CHOOSE content that fits the moment, rather than just do what you have. You give yourself options.

There are some tell tale signs of not enough prep. If you hear someone telling a story or quote from a news source or article and their only personal comment is, “Ha, well thats how it goes I guess!”, or “Can you believe it eh?”. The prep stopped when they found the item and didn’t include having a view, thought or original take or comment. Its prep of course, but at its most basic form.

I once did a session where I created an acronym- RIP your content.


R” stood for RESEARCH– gather your content, your surveys, your weird stories or talking points that you find from whatever source. Gather the material in buckets.

I” stood for INTERNALISE. Consume it, think about it and know how you feel about it. What do you have to say? If its just “Well only in America!”, or “Well there it goes then”, then you don’t feel enough and discard it. Also internalise it to the point that you don’t need the original source material- DON’T TAKE IT INTO THE STUDIO. You lose me when you start reading out a news article. TELL ME, don’t read to me!

P” stood for PERFORM. It is a performance and one which should ensure that the content cuts through and reaches its potential. You perform your material to an audience, so rehearse and ensure its give its best shot when the on air live illuminates.

Another pet peeve and one which I hear a few times in talk formats is, “well we are just going to have to see how that goes”, or “we’ll see how that plays out”, or “lets see what happens”. Its such a completely pointless phrase that you might as well say, “something else is going to happen, and then something else after that because thats how time works”. Of course if you are talking about a topical event or news story, then it is going to play out and you don’t know for sure what will happen but you don’t have to point that out. Perhaps it might be handy to give your perception or professional insight into how it MIGHT play out? What the consequences might be and what might influence how things change in your professional opinion? Just retelling me a list of events and ending with “we will just have to see what happens” is not useful. Try some prep for the bit which gives me insight?

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Published by Dick Stone

Radio...its always been radio.

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