The role of a commentator is to provide additional information, inside knowledge, and not surprisingly, commentary, about current events. They’re not limited to politics but can discuss all manner of things – celebrities, popular culture, sports, finance, real estate, the list goes on.
Commentating can show off your skills and knowledge of an industry, as well as your personality – but you must be able to connect and engage with an audience.
As a commentator, you need to be able to use data and previous experiences to draw new conclusions and being brave enough to predict possible impacts or changes that may occur to your industry.
Commentators must also be able to provide analysis on intricate and complex matters and when appropriate, offer advice.
By becoming a “go-to” person for the media, you can establish yourself as a commentator, and for your own brand and your company’s, that exposure is invaluable.
How to be a good commentator:
Present well: You need to be able to present well and speak clearly, while also coming across as conversational. Try to set yourself apart from the other commentators. Sometimes, you will be visible on camera and at other times, only your voice will be used. So, prepare beforehand and make sure you’re wearing something suitable, just like you’re going to be interviewed. Your voice is really important. You need to be able to speak confidently. Commentating is often live, so you need to remain calm and collected and think on the spot, to make you seem more professional and knowledgeable to the audience. Try not to drag attention from key moments that are happening around you, even though you think your opinions or observations are valid. Natural talking points will arise, so wait for them, instead of forcing them.
Perform well under pressure: Being able to comfortably present under pressure is a must. Sometimes things out of your control go wrong. Miscues, slip’s and pronunciation mishaps need to be handled professionally without panic. Beforehand, practice names that are hard to pronounce or need clarification and try to explain complicated concepts in a way that’s easy to understand. Pre-empt what you may be asked and get your key messaging down-pat. The more practice you do, the more confident you will feel, which will resonate with audiences making them trust you.
Be versatile: Versatility is vital for commentating. Before the event or interview, you should ask yourself “Why should the audience listen to me?” or “What makes my knowledge and insight valuable?” and rehearse what you’re going to say. You must prepare for the unexpected – you need to be versatile to move and flow with events that are unfolding around you. Most commentators can create new conversation, based around things that are happening.
Be informative: You need to be informative and accurate to the audiences, so do your homework and prepare before the event – this will give you an edge and convince the audience that you are credible. Review articles from the event or even current buzz from social media to see what the public is saying. This will add new and uncovered angles that could give an interesting insight. Try to forgo obvious, well-known or over-reported facts. This can make you seem repetitive and questions the quality of your commentator skills. What new insight are you really offering? Add to the commentary with personal experiences, however, you don’t want to appear arrogant or smug. You can add your first-hand experience to add more to your observation. Don’t badmouth or downplay important moments.
Be humorous: It’s okay to have a sense of humour, depending on the type of event you’re commentating on. Is it a sporting event or Eurovision? Go for it. If you’ve been brought on as a terrorism expert to discuss the latest attack, steer clear. You must always make your audience believe in what you’re saying. Develop a catchphrase or transition style to add to your appeal and make your commentating more memorable. This is where you can showcase your personality and make sure your voice shines through.
Be available. To be a go-to media person, you need to be reliable and available. Offer yourself up if there’s a situation unfolding you can comment on. If you’re called for an interview, make yourself available. If you really can’t do it, suggest someone else who will perform well – it will help you to maintain a good relationship with the journalist and they’ll get in touch again next time a situation arises.