As you prepare to record narration or go live on the air, try not to think about the fact that there’s a microphone between you and the audience. In fact, try not to think about the audience at all. Your goal is to communicate as if you’re having a conversation with just one person. To put yourself in the right frame of mind to tell your story, think about what you’ve learned that you’re now ready to share. You know something your audience doesn’t. Keeping that in mind should help you sound like you’re interested in telling your story; if you don’t, no one will be particularly interested in listening to it. You’re not acting and this isn’t a performance, but the way you tell the story should match the content. “The criticism I got early on was that all my stories sounded the same,” says reporter Boyd Huppert of KARE-TV in Minneapolis, Minn. “Now when I sit in the booth the first thing I do is think, ‘What’s this about? Is this happy or sad?’ You can go overboard, but over time you find what’s comfortable for you.”
Deborah Potter, a journalism trainer, is co-author of ADVANCING THE STORY: BROADCAST JOURNALISM IN A MULTIMEDIA WORLD. She runs NewsLab (http://www.newslab.org) and holds workshops all over the world.