How To Improve Your On-Camera Performance

My senior year at the Princeton of the Plains, Kansas State University, I took a storytelling class from a wonderful women named Charlotte McFarland. The purpose was to develop spontaneity and on camera performance.

The local cable TV station filmed our class doing our final storytelling performances of the semester. When I watched my segment air one week later, my first thought was, “You sure are a handsome guy Jon.” My second thought was, “Love the pink paisley shirt.” My third thought was, “Dude, you have no camera presence. You look nervous, you look scared, you look reserved and you’re mumbling.” So, I went about trying to fix those things.

I don’t know that I’ve improved much, but here are some top tips for improving your on camera performance.
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Sportscasting Career Advice: Always Arrive Early

When I was in my first job in McPherson, KS, I did football play-by-play for a small NAIA school, Bethany College. One October afternoon, the Swedes had a game up the road in Salina at Kansas Wesleyan. As was my habit, I arrived at the stadium two hours early. I liked taking my time to set-up my broadcast location, review my notes, record my pre-game coaches interview, then relax before going on the air. Today, though, was different.

When I plugged in my phone jack (yes – we broadcast using telephone land lines back in the day), I heard the last thing a broadcaster ever wants to hear in that situation.
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The Most Valuable Lesson I learned In My Sportscasting Career

One of the students in a sports broadcasting class I taught at Palomar College in San Diego was a kid named Jordan Carruth. Jordan stayed in touch after he graduated. He would call to ask how things were going and update me on his career. He would get me San Diego State basketball tickets through his job at a local radio station. He kept in contact.

Ten years after graduating, Jordan ended up coming to work for STAA.
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Networking with Sportscasters at the Next Level

A friend of mine is the best relationship builder I have met in sports broadcasting.

When CBS came to his town to telecast a PGA Tour event, he went to the production truck. Not only did he meet Jim Nantz, he also met one of the executive producers in charge of hiring talent.

When he visited a nearby big city, he introduced himself to the athletic director at a local university, and what do you know, he ended up getting play-by-play opportunities for the school.

When he wanted to meet the hiring executives at the Big 10 Network, he told them he was going to be in Chicago where they’re headquartered and asked if he could stop by. They said yes.

Here are some top tips for networking with sportscasters at the next level.
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The Best Sportscasting Job You’ll Have

When I was in my first sportscasting job in McPherson, KS, I let my car run out of oil. I was making $18,000 a-year; I couldn’t pay to get it fixed out of my salary. I had to use the money I received for health insurance, then pray I didn’t hurt myself.

Minuscule salaries are one thing we hate about entry-level sports broadcasting jobs. But I want to share with you two reasons why your first job might be the best sportscasting job you’ll ever have.
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How To Make The Jump To DI Play-by-Play

Years ago I applied for the play-by-play job at my alma mater, Kansas State University. I went to school there; I was a walk on in the basketball program there and my dad is an alumnus and had ties with some big boosters. I thought I had a good shot at the job.

Wrong.
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How To Figure Out What The Next Step In Your Career Should Be

A sportscaster e-mailed me to share that he was facing one of the biggest challenges in his career. He asked, “How do I know what the right next step is for me? I know I’ll be successful at higher levels but I earn a great salary here and I’ve set down roots.

To determine the best next step in your career, you must prioritize three considerations: career, finances and family.
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John Wooden’s Methods Will Help You Improve Your Sportscasting Craft

The late UCLA basketball coach John Wooden is my greatest mentor outside of my Dad. I never met Coach Wooden but he’s had a profound influence on my life, largely through books.

One thing I loved about Coach was how he taught: instruction, demonstration, repetition and correction.

Coach Wooden’s methods will help you improve your sports broadcasting craft.
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3-Step Plan For Moving To The Next Level In Your Sportscasting Career

Growing up in San Diego, I am a long-suffering Padres fan. The highlight of my fandom was 1984. I was at The Murph when they beat the Cubs in the deciding game of the NLCS to move to the World Series.

One of my favorite all-time Padres is closer Kirby Yates. He went from being released by the Angels to an All-Star with the Padres. The way he did it was by having a plan: stay in shape and develop a new pitch — the splitter.

Like Kirby Yates, you can have a plan for moving to the next level in your sports broadcasting career.
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Coach Bill Snyder’s Example Will Help You Find Sportscasting Opportunities

I love Kansas State football. I graduated from K-State and was a walk-on in the basketball program. But it’s the football program I’ve always had a deep passion about because of Bill Snyder.

One thing Coach Snyder’s teams did was enter and exit the stadium as a group. It was a show of solidarity and there is strength in numbers.

You can apply that same “strength in number approach” in the sportscasting job market using the Referral Request Email.
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