News Anchor Tips
Broadcast trends show that more stations are headed toward solo anchors to save money. Of course, in solo anchoring there are two things to consider: Can the anchor maintain energy throughout the entire show? Can the anchor make each story sound different?
energy does not mean talking faster and louder. It means learning to effectively use all
of your communication skills. The
first step toward achieving this outcome is this:
- the anchor must pre-read each story for meaning. Then he/she should choose the communication skill(s) that will enhance the meaning of each story. The communication skills are: pacing, pauses, voice modulation, facial expressions, eye contact and hand gestures.
- the anchor must read their story aloud and time how long it takes to read.
Every story should sound different. To accomplish this, the anchor must first avoid any patterns like a singsong tone, a monotonous voice and a measured pace. Managing - and varying - vocal pitches is the cure for a singsong tone.
Adding expression and meaning to a word helps prevent a monotone, and well-placed pauses help vary the pace. Also, at the end of every story, the anchor must change his/her voice as he/she begins the next story. When the talent ends on one note, he/she should begin reading the next story on a different note.
Eye Contact: The Look-Down
Breaking eye contact with the camera is a technique often used by solo anchors. Since there is no co-anchor to toss to, the solo anchor can look down at scripts in between stories. They can also glance down when reading numbers, dates or names, which viewers interpret as the anchor verifying the information.
When breaking eye contact with the viewers, the one thing
to practice is timing. Anchors shouldn't glance down at the script so
quickly that it looks they were distracted. The look-down should be long
enough so that the audience recognizes that the anchor is accessing
information, which raises their level of credibility in the eyes of viewers.
THE IMPORTANCE OF VOICE:
“Voice is probably the #1 criterion used in hiring. When news directors punch the eject button 15 seconds into an applicant’s tape, they do it because that applicant sounds like an amateur, not a professional. If you’re going to make a living with your voice, you should learn to use your voice effectively. It is as basic as learning how to type, and for a broadcaster, is just as important.”
--David Cupp, Former News Director, WVIR-TV, Charlottesville, VA
“The effect of a broadcaster’s voice is immediate and overpowering. No amount of excellent writing or good on-air presence can compensate for a poor voice.”
--Susan Stolov, President, Washington Independent Productions, Washington, D.C.
“Bad delivery is the biggest reason I find not to hire an applicant. The voice communicates so much, yet there’s an over-emphasis on appearance. I find a lot more voice problems than appearance problems.”
--Dave Busiek, News Director, KCCI-TV, Des Moines, IA
Source: Broadcast Voice Handbook, by Ann Utterback, Ph.D.