Show, Don’t Tell


(By Randy Lane) Last week on Clubhouse, Loyd Ford asked me about talent coaching challenges. There are many that range from once-great shows that are in decline to new and inexperienced shows trying to find themselves. The most frustrating challenge is when talent agrees with my coaching recommendations, but then they don’t implement them.

In my experience, the most effective approach for most cycles and situations is modeling. The business, psychology, and education worlds widely practice modeling to accelerate growth. In education, the teacher’s expectations for student performance are made clear through examples.

Changing behavior is usually not easy. As a coach, it starts with seeing yourself less as a critiquing boss and more as a facilitator.

Famed NFL coach Vince Lombardi had an epiphany while watching tapes with the team of plays that went wrong. Rather than trying to fix flawed plays, he told the players that from that point on they would only watch tape of plays that were executed perfectly. He believed that football players could achieve their potential by seeing themselves perform at an optimum level.

Lombardi used modeling back in the sixties to become one of the most successful coaches in sports history. Here are three simple modeling approaches to help air talent actualize their potential:

1. Modeling Audio
With the show, listen to a segment that was well executed. It could be a feature, a setup, an exit, or imaging, etc. Point out what worked well and reinforce why it worked.

An additional helpful way to model coaching points is listening to exemplary audio of a successful show the talent respects. Be clear that you’re not suggesting that they emulate another show. The point is to model what is being done well and encourage your show to put its own spin on the idea.

2. Examples
You can explain the 80-20 Rule of Teasing and talent will get some of it. But they will understand it better by giving them an example of a well-written tease. Better yet, play an example of one that would compel the audience to continue listening.

In our character definition exercise with talent, we demonstrate the concept of skewed opposites (endearing vs. flawed characteristics) with examples of well-known characters like James Bond or Walter White (Breaking Bad).

3. Analogies, Metaphors, and Stories
Rather than making points with dry information, creative people respond to and absorb more from mental pictures. For instance, when stressing the importance of setups and exits, you could use the analogy of how critical the takeoff and landing are in flights.

Successful modeling is not about telling talent how to improve, it’s about facilitating and modeling coaching points with audio, examples, and symbols.

Randy Lane launched his media talent coaching and personal brand development company in 1996. He can be contacted by phone at 805.231.5746 or email at [email protected].


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