Garth Brooks tells a great story you can learn from.

Early in his career while he was still searching for his voice, he excitedly brought a demo taped to a friend.

“Listen, listen to this song; I sound just like George Jones,” Brooks said.

The friend told Garth that his music career wouldn’t take off until he stopped trying to sound like George Jones, and started sounding like Garth Brooks.

You need to do the same – stop trying to sound like George Jones and start trying to sound like Garth Brooks. Just kidding.

What I mean, of course, is that to achieve your best work as a host, you can’t try to sound like anyone else; you must simply be yourself. You will never find your “true voice” – that elevated state of authentic communicating which all of the greats possess – by attempting to imitate someone else.

Everyone, of course, has influences, influences are essential, but you have to avoid losing yourself in trying to serve your influences.

As a talk host myself, I have been influenced by Colin Cowherd, Tony Kornheiser, Michael Savage, all of whom I’ve worked with. Collin influenced me to use more humor. I will never be as funny as him, however, so I don’t try to be. Tony Kornheiser influenced me to become a better story teller, and so I have. But I’ll never be as good a storyteller as he. Michael Savage influenced me to take topics by the throat, but I don’t lean as heavily on the sledge hammer when approaching subjects as he does.

I take pieces from my influences while staying true to myself, staying true to my voice.

I’ll be honest. It took me years to find my “true voice.” Probably more than 10 years. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t good – or that you can’t be good – until you find your “true voice,” you can.

Take Vincent Van Gogh as an example. Van Gogh painted for many years, and well, before finding his “true voice” as a painter. But he only become a legend after he did. It is his later work – “Starry Night” – when he found his “true voice;” that made him immortal.

Your “true voice.”

When you turn on the microphone and stop trying to sound like anyone else or be anyone else and are 100% comfortable giving your audience a completely unfiltered version of yourself. Authenticity. Comfort. Confidence.

The only way to find it is practice. Repetition. And constant introspection of your work. Deep introspection. Record your hosting work and listen back critically. Seek out the help of coaches like myself.

We had a new host start at the radio station where I work recently and I told her one thing before she went on the air her first day: be yourself, it’ll either be good enough or it won’t.

I’m willing to bet it will be good enough; in her case and in yours.

Most people are likable. Most people are interesting. They are likable and interesting when they’re genuine, when they’re vulnerable, when they’re being themselves and not try trying to be anything else. Not trying to be cool. Not trying to be funny. Not trying to be smart. Just being themselves.

Sure, there are undeniably jerks in this world who will come off like jerks on air simply by being themselves. I doubt that’s you.

Be yourself. More Garth Brooks, less George Jones. Try and try again. When you’ve found your “true voice,” you’ll know it.