Take a second and imagine you’re at the emergency room with a loved one. You’re tense waiting for someone to tell you something. Do you want the doctor to run out to talk to you and sound like he or she can’t control their own excitement about this medical crisis? Certainly not. I feel the same way about what I hear on television, radio or the internet. I want a clear, calm delivery that lets me decide how excited or agitated to be.
I was working with a television reporter the other day who had ramped up the intensity of her delivery to a level that was clearly too high. When I asked her why she had done this, she said it was because the events of the story were so exciting she had gotten caught up in the excitement. Does this ever happen to you? If you’re a reporter, you might be covering a riot or an explosion. Any story that gets the heart pumping. If you’re a voice over artist, you might be pushing your delivery to get more excitement about a product or you might get directed to sound overly excited.
The problem is that if your excitement bleeds into your delivery too much, you’re doing a disservice to your listener. Let me give you an example I always cite when I’m talking about this. On 9/11, the only network I could watch was ABC because Peter Jennings had such a calm delivery. (Listen to this clip of Peter Jennings on 9/11.) He wasn’t adding to the crisis in the way he was reporting it. Other anchors were. All I wanted was to hear what was happening. That day certainly didn’t need drama added to it. I wanted a calm, steady voice that did not portray hysteria.
Keep this in mind the next time you have the feeling you should ramp up your delivery. Ask yourself, am I letting my emotions take over my delivery? And remember, often it’s the calm, steady voice that we want to hear whether we’re in the emergency room or listening to media.
Want to read more on this topic? Check my recent post, “Rapid-Fire Delivery Can Get You Fired.”
Interesting Note: On the clip of Peter Jennings above, you’ll also hear the calm voice of one of the finest journalists I know, Pierre Thomas, Senior Justice Correspondent for ABC News, who just yesterday was named Broadcaster of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists. Congratulations Pierre!