Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Language of Commentaries

This morning, I heard a sports commentator on television use fascinating words in his narrative of the Pro Tour ITIF Table Tennis match in Japan. He said: ‘She ran out of real estate!’ after the ball was hit off the table. It was a sweet application of analogy. ‘She used the entire table and regained control!’

Have you ever listened to sports commentaries on ESPN channel? The better professionals are highly energetic, animated and voluminous in description. The enthused announcer may wax lyrical and spout lines like a creative and aggressive underground rapper in battle for a title. Recall Eminem’s The Eighth Mile where he puts an antagonistic rapper in his place, after the latter hits below the belt (pardon me for using boxing terminology) with personal attacks. Eminem reclaims his turf by returning verbal blows, with intelligent hooks and deep undercuts.

In the wonderfully cheerful film, Music and Lyrics (starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore) poetry is married to melody to create a hit song. A music writer seeks the partnership of a gardener-natural lyricist to create a potential pop hit. Although words are only 7 percent of face-to-face communication, it still matters when we make that verbal and intellectual connection.

Professor Tim Gunn (of Project Runway fame) uses an astounding vocabulary that sits well when he describes fashion (on his program, Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style). Although it may sound exaggerated at times, it is nonetheless enticing as it makes creative sense. On occasions, the adjectives used in the series may be a bit over-the-top it delivers the punches (home).

‘You can do much better!’
‘You can’t do any worse!’

Ever picked up a call when overseas and wonder what the caller was going on about? Tone (38 percent, according to Albert Mehrabian’s much misunderstood model) although important, matters only when we speak the same language.
In a commentary, the gist of the event has to be captured such that a fan listening in still enjoys a sense of the experience. Recall how years ago, before the advent of the television (let’s pretend…a line from M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense) that we used to listen to soccer on radio? It was just as exciting to listen in to the World Cup as it was watching it.

Leaders spread the word. Make a commentary at times. Your timing is important. Make it real-time. Communicate elegantly and exquisitely, and deliver with ease. Relish the meaning behind each word. Your emotions will help you present your tone with emphasis, poignancy and purpose.

Rock on! Roar on! Relish the moment…

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