Got a New Set? You Need Talent Coaching

Your station just spent big bucks on a studio makeover. Suddenly your on-air talent looks…

A new set can have unintended consequences. I recently was asked to help a morning anchor team bring more urgency to the headlines. When viewing the air checks, it was obvious these experienced anchors were not really “selling” it. But only when I visited their new set did I find out why. They were delivering the headlines while making their way across the studio from one part of the set to another, trying not to trip over cables and risers or bump into cameras along the way, while trying to make sense of their script or prompter copy.

An evening anchor team in another market had developed a habit of stumbling through the top story. It turned out that the station was so eager to show off its spiffy new set with a fast-moving jib camera on the opening 2-shot that the anchors had no chance of reading the breaking news that had been put into prompter only seconds before airtime.

That fancy new high-tech weather center? Too bad it’s on the other side of the studio and requires the weather presenter to navigate around cameras, step over cables and stroll through an interview area to get there from the anchor desk… and back.

You think that new magic wall will have your newscast instantly competing with Shep Smith on  the Fox News Deck? Maybe your anchors and reporters need a lesson in how to manipulate the graphics while talking, and when it’s okay to turn your back to the camera.

The new set for the Today show illustrates another common problem: high stools that require the talent to wrap their legs around a chair stem. So many young talent have thin voices to begin with; failure to ground their feet is likely to make it even more difficult to ground their voices with proper breathing, to add depth and credibility.

Many of these problems have simple solutions. Coaching can help your talent “win” the new set. After all, the reason you spent that chunk of money is to show off your people. And, as they say on Broadway, no one ever leaves a hit show humming the scenery.