Tips for Live Shots

One thing that makes live reporting seem awkward is the reporter’s fear of making a mistake or looking strange. The most important elements to help you avoid those awkward moments are knowledge of the situation and practice.

Beyond that here are some tips from our Cronkite live reporting class to help improve your presentation.

  1. Stand slightly angled to the camera. This invites the viewer to look beyond you and will make your gestures and references seem more natural.
  2. Focus intently on what you are doing and saying. Enunciate your words precisely. Tune everything else out including noisy equipment, people at the scene yelling or waving.
  3. Get to the point. Tell what’s new first. This is counter to what most television reporters do. They set the scene first, often repeating what the anchor just said. Putting the news first makes the live shot more compelling and succinct.
  4. Tell the viewers why and how. Avoid lapsing into truisms. Make your live shot substantive and memorable by telling viewers something they don’t already know or that isn’t clearly obvious.
  5. Give some background. Guide viewers to what will happen next.
  6. Refer to your notes by glancing down at them. Viewers expect to see a notebook. Outline the beginning, middle and end of what you are going to say. Avoid reading your notes. Use your thumb as a place mark.
  7. If the anchor has said it, don’t repeat it.
  8. Pace yourself. Don’t race trying to add urgency to your report.
  9. Listen intently to people you are interviewing.
  10. Make your movements purposeful. Don’t use the “walk to nowhere.” Think of your stand-up as your moment to explain, demonstrate or teach.
  11. Practice….Practice….Practice….even if you have only a few moments.
  12. Use a Lav mic. It is always less intrusive and allows you to be more natural. There is no need to shout. Your mic will pick up your voice fine and will catch much less background noise than your ear can hear.
  13. Conclude by saying your location, name and station in the format the station prescribes.
  14. Resist the temptation to add “and now back to you in the studio.” Where else would we go? Essentially the “back to you” phrasing shifts our communication with the viewers to a private conversation with the anchor.
  15. Hold your gaze steady on the camera. Keep that gaze for a few seconds after you think the live shot is finished. The anchor may come back with a question. Regardless, if you look away quickly it distracts the viewers.
  16. Refrain from scratching any part of your body.
  17. If you stumble over words, keep going. Only your reaction will make it awkward.
  18. Wrap your live shot and push the story forward.
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