Ways to improve your delivery

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By: Mandy Mitchell

I get two questions more often than most from people just entering the TV News business.

The first, and by far the most common, is: When should I hire an agent?

Ugh. Really? Why is that the most asked question? If you want an answer to that question please read this post . Or you can read this one.

Now that we have gotten that question out of the way I will go to the more practical question I get often: How do I improve my delivery?

Honest and quick answer? Time. Time. Time.

I know you don’t want to hear that. I bet you want some trick that anchors and reporters use to “improve” that aspect of performance. All I can tell you is, after more than a decade of being in front of the camera, the answer is time.

Your delivery develops as you get more comfortable in front of the camera.

There are a couple of tips I can offer as you get these reps.

  • Don’t talk in a news voice. One of the best compliments I can get is if someone tells me I “sound just like you do on tv.” That means I am comfortable on air. It means I am talking in a normal voice to the viewer. It means I am not shouting. You don’t have to have some sort of “news voice” to be taken seriously. Just talk to me. Just tell me a story.
  • Write like you talk! I am stealing this from the book (which we talked about in this podcast.) If you write like you talk, you are not only writing in a way that will avoid “news speak” like blaze, or shots rang out…you are writing in a way that will be easier to read. When you write things that are easier to read you  don’t sound like you are reading.
  • Slow down. Chances are, you read too fast. You likely read too fast on the desk and you likely read too fast in the audio booth. You are reading too fast because that’s what happens when you try to inject ENTHUSIASM! and try to have ENERGY! I assure you that you can have enthusiasm and energy without spitting out a million words a minute. Take a deep breath. Tell me a story.
This post originally ran in December 2016

Back Time Your Day

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By: Mandy Mitchell

I totally get it. I understand how overwhelming it can be to work in a newsroom and have all of the demands of the day on your mind when you walk in to the morning meeting. You may have 2 VOSOTs to shoot and a PKG. You have to think about social media. You have to be live at 4 and 5 and 6. Then you have to post your stuff to the web.

If you think about all of that stuff at once you will you feel overwhelmed and behind all day. That will not lead you to your best work.

This is really where time management becomes key. The most successful people I know are the best at “back timing” their days.

I’ll give you an example of a workload for the day. You have your morning meeting at 9. You need to get a VOSOT from the fire from last night. Then you are doing a PKG on “how hot it is” and how people who work outside can “stay safe”. Live at 4pm with your PKG. Lets just say you are an MMJ.

Your Day:

3:40- (Your first hard deadline) When you should be feeding your PKG for your 4pm Live shot. This is also a good time for a pre-live shot Facebook live.

2:15-3:40- Edit time.

1:15-2:15 Writing time.

12:45-1:15 Edit your VOSOT/Feed it in. Do any social media you may need to catch up on. Facebook live etc.

So this gives you from 9:30 (when you leave the morning meeting) to 12:45 to shoot your VOSOT and your PKG. That’s 3 hours and 15 minutes. And remember, we are being rather generous with our writing/editing time.

If you look at your day this way you will realize you actually have more time than you think. This will allow you to relax and use the time you have to shoot your story and shoot it well. If you think of the day as a “whole” you will be tempted to rush through shooting because you think you are going to run out of time. You won’t. You have plenty of time.

You can use this technique for most of your days. Sure, there will be occasions when you are called to breaking news or your story is switched. In that case you just figure out a new schedule. It’s all about creating small “deadlines” for yourself throughout the day no matter how many times that day changes.

If you are a faster writer, that allows you to budget more time for editing. Faster editor, more time for writing. Learn how you work and schedule it. You will be amazed how much more relaxed you feel at the end of the day.

 

 

 

 

Dealing with a rut

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By: Mandy Mitchell

If you’ve been in this business long enough you have had your share of ruts. It’s the time when your mind is pretty negative about most things. You think about the bad stuff of the business.

I tend think about how I’ve been working weekends for 13 years and have worked most every holiday for 13 years and how I can’t take time off more than 3 months of the year.

Can’t take March because that’s the NCAA tournament! Can’t take February because that’s sweeps! Can’t take August-December because that’s football season!

It is very very easy to fall into this trap of thinking about the negative stuff, especially when you are burned out after a big project or just a long stretch of time of grinding day after day. We all know this isn’t a 9-5 job. We all know we are going to have to work bad hours and holidays and all of that, but what we don’t really talk about is what to do when that stuff begins to weigh on you and when it takes the joy out of what is actually good about the job.

Telling yourself to “think good thoughts!” doesn’t do much to get you out of a really deep TV news rut. Neither does thinking about how great it would be to get a “normal job” and looking around for things you could to do have a “normal life.”

There are a few things that can help.

  • Have a good cry. It certainly helps me to completely unload all of the negativity at one time. The stuff we do isn’t glamorous. It’s ok to admit that and just let it out. You would not be the first and will not be the last to do this.

 

  • Talk to someone who does the same job you do in another market. Just call them up and tell them you need to vent and then do that. You will quickly find you both have the same stories to tell and it will almost become comical. If you choose to vent to someone else in your own newsroom, you can often be misunderstood and come off as a “complainer.” We all need vent time. The best person to vent to is someone who gets what you do 100%. Reporters, anchors, producers, and assignment editors all have problems, but they are slightly different problems. It helps to talk to someone with your specific job.

 

  • Find your “happy place.” The place at the TV station that reminds me why I got into the business is the control room. For whatever reason, it still seems cool to me. The lights, the monitors, the buttons! If I am ever feeling sad, I just go into the control room for a block of the news and stand in the back. It reminds me that, while this job can suck, it’s also a pretty cool thing to be a part of live TV. Find a place you can go  that can do the same for you. It allows you to take a step back and appreciate where you work and what you do.

 

  • Take a long walk or hike that isn’t part of your daily exercise routine (if you have one.) Find a park and walk, with no music, for an hour. If you have places to hike, do that. Just being in nature for a longer period of time will clear your mind. Try not to think about what’s burning you out. Just focus on the walk.

 

  • Watch a local newscast from a bigger market. Find a station you like and admire and watch what they do. That will remind you of your goals and remind you that TV news can be fun.

 

Most of us who are in this business are really ambitious and have big goals. The flip side of that is learning how to deal with the stress and pressure those big goals can bring. You can be a mostly positive and happy person and still pretty darn burned out a couple of times of the year. Just learn to recognize the rut for what it is and take steps to pull yourself out.

This post is originally from July 2016