No matter how long you’ve actually worked with your co-caster(s), you are expected to gel as one unit on the broadcast. This means clean hand offs, fun banter, and being on the same page. While there is no magic formula for making this happen every time, you can focus on key things that will put yourselves in a position to best work together.
The “yes, and” technique is the first rule of improv by David Alger. The intent is to allow multiple parties to make up a story in a way where all are able to contribute to the creative direction. By saying “yes, and” an expectation is set between partner(s) that there is trust and each person will help push the direction forward.
If you’ve seen great improv or even the TV show “Whose Line Is It Anyways?” you’ve witnessed how trust and clear expectations can lead to an incredible performance. In each skit there is a vague direction given, but the magic happens when the contestants build a seamless, yet absurd story. The contestants are completely engaged and make you believe it is real for that moment because of the “yes, and” mentality.
Implementing “Yes, and” to Esports Casting
HardcoreHank, caster for the WarpMeta Overwatch Tournament, uses his improv background to help him mesh well with any co-caster. This is all done before the broadcast by setting goals and confirming roles and expectations. The overall purpose is to establish trust between the casting team.
This is twofold: 1) what are your big picture goals for the broadcast and 2) what are your personal goals. The big picture goals should be about your vision for the entire broadcast. If your team aspires to the same vision, then personal goals can be aligned to the same effort.
You can ask these questions:
- What is the purpose of this broadcast?
- What is the main story line of the broadcast?
- How do you hope to contribute to this?
Confirming Roles and Expectations
This is the most crucial part of establishing any team, and yet is often overlooked by casters. Don’t ever go into a cast thinking “we’ll just figure it out” or you’ll have a bad time. After the broadcast goals are aligned, roles and expectations should be agreed upon to make sure the goals are being addressed.
You can ask these questions:
- What are our roles, and how are we supposed to interact?
- What is your casting style?
- What do we trust each other to do?
Signs that You Need To Work On Trust
Talking Over / Cutting Off — Cutting off a co-caster is a signal that you are not on the same page. Even if your co-caster wasn’t adding much to the conversation, it is better to wait for the hand off than sound uncoordinated. If your co-caster doesn’t cut off when you think they should, this is a discussion about roles and expectations, not something to figure out on stream.
Awkward Pauses — It is better to have a pause than cut off. However if the pause grows into something greater than you feel acceptable, it is again a discussion about roles and expectations. You may even find that pauses you thought were awkward were really not. Reviewing a VOD with your co-caster can greatly help here.
Disagreements on Air — There’s banter, but then there’s disagreement. It can be easy to lose sight of the purpose of the broadcast, so that’s why setting the broadcast goal is so important. If your co-caster says something wrong you have to evaluate whether the mistake has compromised the broadcast goal. If not, it’s better to move on than get into a debate.
What are other ways you work trusting your co-caster? What are other warning signs? Join the discussion on the Discord channel!