Welcome back, casting aficionados! Last time we went over the basics of public speaking that can elevate your casts. This time, let’s look at a subject that all event organizers and casters should have on their minds – what kinds of casters are there, and how do they work together? Very rarely will an event have only one caster, so it’s pivotal to consider how best to group casters in order to create the best teams possible. But first, we have to look at what the archetypal casters are, and where their skills lie.
There are two main qualities that can influence who you would be best paired with when it comes to deciding a lineup for cocasting an event: personality and expertise. Both are equally important when it comes to crafting your casting persona. Expertise is the number one factor that gains you credibility as someone who can justifiably be talking about the game at hand. Relying too heavily on expertise, however, can cause you to come off as cold, uninteresting, or robotic. Conversely, personality is the ability to make people enjoy listening to you cast the game. It’s what keeps people from becoming disinterested with your commentary. Without personality, you can be the most credible source in the game but nobody will want to listen to you.
Conveniently, very few people are entirely devoid of either personality or expertise. Most who want to cast will create an on screen personality that dabbles into both of these domains. Let’s take a look at how they can interact with each other to create the common casting personas.
The Matrix Of Persona Archetypes
A quick reminder for those who don’t remember their graph theory: left is negative on the horizontal axis with right being positive, and down is negative on the horizontal axis with up being positive. In this, expertise is the vertical axis and personality is the horizontal axis. So this leaves us with four archetypal casters: high expertise but low personality (A), high expertise with high personality (B), high personality with low expertise (C), and low personality and low expertise (D). Let’s dive into these a bit more in depth.
A: The Analyst
The Analyst, quadrant A on the graph, is the caster who can be lacking in personable skills, but can provide outstanding insight into the way the game is unfolding. Their main role on a casting team is to explain why certain plays are significant, provide clarity to choices that may not be immediately obvious in why they were made, and ensure that the audience is able to fully understand how the game is going.
The Analyst is an integral part of a cast because they comprise the arguably most important part of the cast’s content. The analysis and evaluation of the game is the meat and potatoes of the cast – without the Analyst, the audience is just watching a few people hang out. People watch a casted match because the Analyst offers more than the audience could get by having a few friends around.
The Analyst can often fall into a few common pitfalls, though. While focusing on elevating the cast past some buddies watching a game, it’s important to remember that tone control is vital. Otherwise, you risk becoming the Analyst’s hyperbole: The Robot. The Analyst should never forget that the content of the cast is the their wheelhouse, but the delivery is everyone’s job. If you would describe yourself as an Analyst, remember to devote a portion of your attention to being at least reasonably friendly and capable of bantering with your team.
C: The Best Friend
The Best Friend, quadrant C, specializes in creating a friendly, warm, entertaining atmosphere that lets the viewer feel comfortable and at ease while watching the games. They are lacking in analytical skills, but their role doesn’t demand that – instead, their contribution is more emotional, making sure the cast is fun to watch.
The Best Friend can be a huge boon to any casting team. While the Analyst on the desk is focusing on that clutch play’s impact, the Best Friend is hyping it up for the crowd, creating excitement, fun, and above all, energy. The Best Friend is the king of maintaining an atmosphere that draws the audience in and keeps them there, and ensuring that the audience is entertained, and not just informed.
Of course, the Best Friend personality has its drawbacks as well. When focusing too single mindedly on entertaining, it’s easy to forget a crucial part of casting: being able to contribute to the analysis builds credibility. As we’ve discussed before, credibility is the cornerstone of any successful public speaking endeavor, and casting is no different. Without credibility, the Best Friend can cross over into a personality that should always be avoided – The Clown. If you’re not respected on the desk, then your jokes can feel forced, or even worse, the crowd could be laughing at the caster, not with them.
To avoid this, the Best Friend casters should make an effort to include themselves in the analysis, either by offering their own opinions or by engaging the more expert casters. Leading questions are a great way to accomplish this – if a complex or nonobvious play was made, insert yourself into the analysis by asking the expert their opinion on the play.
B: The Professional
In quadrant B we have The Professional, a caster who is adept at both being personable and contributing high level analysis. The Professional can and should be flexible with their approach depending on their co-caster(s), filling in gaps according to the team’s needs. The benefit of this flexibility is that The Professional can always find a way to improve the cast. This makes Professionals highly valuable to any desk, and the archetype that many casters should aspire to become, in time.
The only thing that The Professional needs to account for is that they should not become a Jack of all trades, but master of none. Flexibility of role is a huge boon in favor of this archetype, but it comes at the drawback of potentially underwhelming the viewers in more ways. Being slotted alongside an Analyst while you’re also in an analytical mood will lead to an imbalanced desk. To combat this, The Professional should be sure to clarify their role with their team beforehand. This ensures that the team ends up having all needs met. That aside, The Professional will have very few issues to address, and will always be a key member of any team they join.
D: The Beginner
Last but not least we come to quadrant D: The Beginner. This caster has not yet found where their skills fall. They may (and often do) lean one way or the other, but their full potential hasn’t been explored yet. There’s one very important note here – Beginners are not bad at casting. By nature of wanting to cast, it’s exceedingly unlikely that they are completely devoid of either analytical or personable skills. Instead, The Beginner is unrefined, a diamond in the rough. With time The Beginner has the ability to be excel as any type of caster.
To get there, The Beginner should focus on deciding which skill, personality or analysis, they want to develop first. Then, practice! There are many ways to do this. From streaming, practicing with a partner, or solo casting to your pets and empty room, there are many ways that The Beginner can improve. One of the most common ways to practice for any skill is to watch someone else and emulate them. This applies to casting as much as anything; find a caster who exhibits techniques or qualities you like, study it, and then go try it yourself! Soon The Beginner will start to develop their own style after tweaking and adjusting approaches practiced over time.
Crafting The Best Team Composition
So, we know the types of casters we’re likely to come across. How do we use this? Sorry, but we’re going to fall back on math again.
Let’s say that each caster that you’re teaming up has a personality score and an expertise score, each out of 10. For each caster, rate them on each skill – for instance, a charismatic Analyst may have an 8 out of 10 for expertise and 3 out of 10 personality, while a loveable goofball Best Friend could have a 9 out of 10 in personality and 1 out of 10 into expertise. To find a good mix, you want to aim for 10 out of 10 points in each score between all of the casters, or as close as possible. In most cases, having roughly 8 in each will do just fine.
So, our charismatic Analyst and goofball Best Friend would create a good pair – we’d have an admirable 9 for expertise and a whopping 12 for personality! But why did this system work well? This system means that both skills are adequately accounted for. By using the system, we match casters with others who can fill in around their weaknesses and allow their strengths to really shine.
The clear follow up to this is this: “What types of casters work well together?” Like any good model, this one adheres well to common sense. Analysts pair well with Best Friends, as they are skilled in different areas and can let each other do what they’re best at. Professionals can pair with anybody, as they can be flexible and fulfill the needs of the team. Beginners are best paired with a Professional who can lead the cast, allowing the Beginner to learn from their co-caster. Alternatively, Beginners slot well in tri-casts, as the requirement of other casters filling more duties is lessened with more people, and three tends to be a natural cap for how many people should be casting at once.
Now, going through the process of scoring a caster’s talents and doing out the math to reach a goal number is, at best, tedious. The approach can be made better with a splash of common sense. It’s not really necessary to attach a hard number to a caster’s skills. Instead, a rough judgement call (“okay”, “good”, or “bad”) on a skill is plenty. Knowing that can inform your decision well enough in nearly all circumstances.
Those who should use this system as described, however, are the casters themselves. In order to improve at anything, first you should know where you’re currently lacking. Place yourself on the graph and note which quadrant you fall into. Does that align with your goals? As an Analyst, do you want to double down and be an authority, or be a bit more presentable? Best Friends, do you want to be a host or anchor for the cast and let the team handle the games, or would you rather involve yourself more in the game’s discussions?
Give yourself rough scores in each category for your current skill level, and figure out your desired level that you want to work toward. This will guide your practice, and help you be not just a better caster, but be the exact type of caster that you want to be.
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