Attack of the Bobbleheads!
On a recent coaching trip, I saw these political bobbleheads for sale in the Newark airport. But when retired news director Bob Priddy complained about bobbleheads in a recent RTDNA column, he wasn’t talking about Hillary and the Donald. He probably spoke for a lot of TV news viewers when he criticized what he called, “Buffy and Bill and the bobble headed hand-waver crew show.” He was bothered by anchors moving their hands around too much and reporters nodding their heads while being introduced.
Bob Priddy is a smart guy and a friend of mine, thanks to the RIAS journalism exchange. RTDNA even named an award after him. But like most viewers, he might not realize the reporter waiting to be introduced is using a portable Dejero or LiveU device for that live shot and has to contend with a hard-to-predict technical delay before speaking. As a leading radio journalist, Bob knows very well how to connect with his listeners through the inflections in his voice. But few radio or voiceover artists read their copy with hands folded like the SNL church lady. Gestures can help newscasters animate and energize their voices. If you’ve ever watched behind-the-scenes footage of actors voicing their roles for an animated film, you’ve seen some pretty wild gestures going on in the studio. On camera, however, TV journalists need to consider which gestures will add meaning to their presentation and what will only create a distraction from it. Especially when presenting a weather forecast, it is important to gesture selectively. If you are waving your arm at everything on the graphic, in effect you are waving at nothing. Viewers like Bob also find fault with weather presenters who pace back and forth in front of the graphics, doing what he called a “weather dance,” rather than standing on a mark and interpreting the information in the weather graphics in a more straightforward fashion.
Forecasters with “happy feet” and reporters who begin every live shot with “That’s right, anchor!” are common issues for talent coaching. So don’t be a bobblehead. Call in the talent coach to eliminate the distractions and let viewers like Bob hear your message loud and clear.