Your browser does not support JavaScript!

Smooth and Polished: Great for Decorative Flat Stones-  or Count Dracula- but Wrong for your TV and Radio Speaking Style.

So many people use the smooth and polished misconception when they’re defining their television goals to me!  As soon as I share that these are 2 descriptions to run from- I get the sense that they’re thinking of running away. 
It was the same thing when I used to tell folks I loved Peter Lorre's voice.  For those of you who may not be familiar with him- he was a terrific actor in the Humphrey Bogart era- and had a voice a bit like a cat on helium.    
My point here is that we want to be natural speaking ‘oral’ journalists.. and the natural voice is far from smooth and polished.  Sure- women applying for phone sex jobs may attempt to fake something within this realm.. but our conversational, information-sharing voices are much more like unsyncopated jazz.   If you eavesdrop on a random conversation you’ll hear unexpected and ‘jerky’ highs/lows.. upward and downward inflections.. louder and softer volume.. sudden pauses and at other times strings of run-on comments.   
The voice becomes the semantic vehicle for the messages we share.  As journalists reporting information, we can’t shut out thoughts that- based on what we know- fall into categories like things that are expected.. a bit surprising.. sad.. seemingly confounding or foolish.. auspicious.. etc.  If we’re on-camera we do our best to keep a neutral expression.. and we never intend to editorialize.. but our voice will have a certain ‘ebb and flow’ carrying the information- based on our natural, personal style of self-expression.  And- our eyes are never dead.
By taking an extra moment to internalize information enough to think about who or what this is.. and what’s going on.. we automatically jumpstart a thoughtful, natural style.  We are SHARING the news with one person at a time.
We are not performing.. we are not attempting to be smooth-speaking like silk or fabulous-sounding like an opera star. 
At least once every week or so someone will ask me “how would you say that?”.  Well- it depends on how I (as a journalist) see the nuances and implications of the story.. and your take on it may or may not be the same as mine.
I recently had to replay information 'performed' by a local anchor because his slick style and injections of inhalations overrode my ability to follow what he said: "A boiled water advisory is in effect until further notice for parts of [ ] county it affects the communities of [6 towns]".  Sure, he may be more handsome than my boyfriend.. and boy can he sit up straight.. but if I want to be charmed by some sultry guy's voice- I'll play my Barry White cd.  

My warmest to you all,

Previously featured on the Radio Television Digital News Association as the News Coach blog series.


Return to Joanne's Blog Menu

Stevens Media Consulting Logo