We all know how cool it seems to be a newscaster. You don’t have to know anything, really; you just sit there at your desk, wearing appropriate clothes on your visible top half, and saying semi-intelligent things while looking sidelong at the camera. As long as you aren’t paranoid enough to realize that the little red light might not be the camera but a sniper rifle, you’ll be okay. But there is more to the job than meets the eye at first. I’m here to bring the subtle nuances of the trade to your doorstep so that you can be as annoying as newscasterly possible.
First of all, you need to look good on camera. After your makeup crew finishes with your head, you need to get into the most engaging position possible. There are a few choices to pick from.
You can sit leaning forward onto your desk, with your dominant arm on the desk. Your forearm is flat and you lean on that elbow, staring with a slight frown at the camera. Your other hand will be at your side– not on the desk. It can be in your pocket texting if you want it to be; but you cannot have it on the desk. This position works especially well with potentially shocking news, such as something silly the leading member of the government just said, or the damage wreaked by the chickens who escaped from their henhouse. No movement necessary.
You can sit upright in your chair, with both forearms resting on the edge of the desk. Your fingers are steepled, each fingertip touching the corresponding fingertip on the other hand. (Make sure you get this exactly right; there is nothing more embarrassing than trying to match your little finger with your ring finger and your thumb with your index finger. It just doesn’t work. Trust me.) This position requires some movement, which we will get to later. This position is great for guests on the show, or a newscaster other than the anchor.
You can sit turned an eighth-turn to the side, leaning on your right elbow. Your forearm is again flat on the desk, and your left arm is completely invisible. Your head turns frequently between the camera and the person who is talking. The ideal use for this position is for a news anchor who is interviewing a guest or another newscaster using the Direct position. Movement involved.
The second part of this lesson deals in movement. When you’re speaking to an audience you can’t see, you cannot assume that they can’t see you. This is no time for three-year-old hide-and-seek. If you’re on a radio show, you can be as still as a statue; no one will see. But when you’re airing live on the tube, you’ve got to prove to the world that you aren’t just a cardboard cutout with multiple plastic surgery operations. You must move. You must. Here’s what you need to do, going position by position.
This position requires almost no movement at all, but the movement it does require can be applied to any other position as well. About all that is necessary here is slight head movements. Newscasters, trying to show that they actually do recognize grammar occasionally (contrary to most beliefs sprung from their normal speech), always must cock their heads at subjects and verbs. You look at the camera straight at the beginning, then at the first noun or verb you move your head five degrees to the right, keeping your gaze locked on that camera lens. When you say another noun or verb, cock your head to the other side, five degrees from the origin. Accompany these movements with eyebrow movement for the more surprising nouns or verbs. This works for any position.
Here you have hand movements. Your fingers are steepled and your forearms rest on the desk’s edge. Now all you need to do is move them. Tip your hands down (not lifting your arms from the desk as you do so) for interesting facts. Move them to the right and the left when comparing two things (now you lift your arms). Coupled with your head motions, this should get your points across remarkably well.
Since you’re only asking questions in this position, you need not cock your head. Eyebrow movement is acceptable. But you must move your hand. Not the left one, which is off-camera anyway, hidden behind your body; your right arm, which is resting so innocently on the desk. The biggest no-no of a television anchor’s work is covering the face. You have a *clears throat* beautiful face: let the world see it! Thus, never move your hand in front of your face, but do move your hand. Gesture a little bit with that hand; move it out toward the camera and in toward you as you illustrate different points of the question. Turn up your palm at the end of the question– or just to show the person who you just unwittingly insulted that you have no weapons. As you ask the question and move your hand around, look at the part of the desk your hand is travelling over. Glance at the camera a few times during the question, and at the person the question is directed to as well– just to check for possible signs of them interrupting you so you can talk over them in time. As they answer the question, all must be still. You do not glance at the camera. You do not fidget with your visible hand. Your hand is dead. Your neck is stuck in place. You are staring, raptly attentive, at the person talking. They might find this uncomfortable at times, but who are they to correct you? It’s all for the fans.
I won’t give you tips on what to say during your time in the spotlight, because people even sillier than you will be typing that out onto teleprompters for you to say. Just hope that they don’t get it into their heads to give you tongue twisters– but if they do, back them up with the correct position and movements and you’ll come off all right.
That’s all for today’s session of Totally Ridiculous Jobs And What To Do If You Get Hired For One! Come back next time for the five most revolting things you can say during a job interview to make your potential boss refuse to hire you!