Radio Hed: The Five Second Test

by Jeffrey Hedquist

Here’s a simple, but possibly painful test to perform on your radio script before you’ve produced it. Read the first 5 seconds of your commercial out loud to yourself or to members of your intended audience. Then stop and ask:  “Would you continue to listen to this commercial?”

If the answer is “No,” go back and rewrite your opening “audio headline” so that it catches the attention of and intrigues listeners to stay, because if you don’t get them in the first few seconds, you won’t keep them for the rest of the commercial. If the answer is “Yes,” then go on to tell the rest of the story with an interesting middle and a strong ending.

The opening could be words, interesting voices, sound effects, music, or any combination; but make sure it’s relevant to the rest of the spot. Remember, if you don’t capture them in the first five seconds, often the rest of the commercial is wasted time.

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