A good lecture is a good thing. It’s worth hearing someone talk knowledgably about a topic. Too much, though, brings on a response like the kid who throws the last of his ice cream cone to the ground.
Not everybody is like the man who sat down by himself in Burger King Friday with four vanilla ice cream cones. I said to my wife, “He must be waiting on friends to join him.” No one came, and as he sat under the big screen television, he took his time eating one cone after another. To stop the dripping, he had placed napkins over them. This man had experience.
Lecturers can think that listeners are like the man in Burger King but miss that listeners are more like the boy who throws his unfinished cone down. Many lectures need to be smaller cones—unlike the big one I attended the other night. It focused on the movement and location of a small orb relative to the skill of the receiver to counter thrust the orb.
OK, it was a baseball game on television, and this panel of commentators wore me out with how the pitcher kept throwing the ball in a zone too predictable to the batter. The pitcher didn’t know how to go inside on hitters and keep them off the plate.
The lecture overloaded me with repetition and over analysis of every detail about the ball’s movement. I wanted to watch the game, and the commentators wanted to do a pitching clinic.
I often want to hit the mute button, but my wife would rather suffer the overtaxing analysis rather than watch in silence. Earplugs might help me.
The problem with this game for this kid was that the panel ceased to be broadcasters talking about a mix of information concisely stated. The expert analysis sounded pedantic, and the broadcasters at times were tribunal.
More spacing and sense of mystery would have enticed me as a viewer. Why does the expert need to fill in all the details and nuances? Instead, draw the viewer in more by curiosity that stimulates a sense of participation as the information unfolds. Let the viewer enjoy more discovery.
The analyst could say, “Why are the hitters too comfortable in the box with this pitcher?” Let viewers ponder and respond—think for themselves and take a stab before the broadcaster tells the answer.
My wife said it well: “Lecture can take the fun out of something you love.” The airways don’t need to be crammed every minute with analysis that stifles the reflection process by observers. As broadcasting gets more comprehensive and oriented toward expert analysis, it could end up with a situation similar to the deadening effect lectures finally had in schools.
The analysts don’t have to be Socrates, but they could learn a little from him by way of asking a question and making the hearer do more work.
Some of us like to observe and see what we can come up with first. With ballgames, when I can’t stand it anymore, I leave the room. It’s time to put earplugs on the shopping list, or else keep tossing a lot of cones to the ground.
- Pat Hughes’ advice for a young sportscaster (wgnradio.com)
- Sports Commentary 9/6/13 : The Father Of Play By Play (connecticut.cbslocal.com)
- This Week’s NFL Announcers (camrogerstv.com)