Friday, December 14, 2012

Anchor tip week: life force and "the rule of 22"

Resume tapes for anchors are a little different than those for reporters. While reporters need to show their versatility in a montage with live shots, standups and set pieces, the anchors need to do so in a different way.

Here's the key. While reporters need to show a wide range of reporting skills, anchors need to show a wide range of personality. And a ton of life force.

This goes back to our "talk, don't read" rule of anchoring. A great anchor not only talks to the viewer, but also conveys his or her personality. Viewers don't want someone who just reads the prompter well, but someone who can do it with the right tone, the right amount of emotion, the facial animation that shows a life force which jumps through the screen.

It's like going to a party. There's always someone who is the center of attention, someone with such a strong life force it attracts everyone.

Anchoring is the same way. But here's the problem: anchors work in a business in which they have to have our most energy at the end of the day. When most people in the real world are getting ready to pack it up for the evening commute, anchors need to bring that life force to the front in a big way. Many times you're tired, your muse is sluggish, you're ready to head home and relax... but you know you've got a newscast to anchor. And you might not have the energy to do it.

So here's the rule of 22: In every thirty minutes newscast, there are eight minutes of commercials. Which means you're on the air for just 22 minutes. Subtract maybe six minutes for weather and sports and you've got even less face time. But during those 22 minutes, you're the focal point of the newscast.

So don't think about the newscast you have to anchor at the end of the day as something to do before the shift is over, think of it this way: "I really only have to be up for 22 minutes every day."

Several years ago I worked with an anchor who was always dragging at the end of the day, and it came through on the air. I took a big black magic marker, wrote the number "22" on it, and taped it above her computer. She used it as a reminder to make sure she was up at the right time of the day. Her anchoring got a lot better.

If you have to pace yourself and conserve energy to do this, then do so. But great anchors manage to bring that life force to the forefront every day for those 22 minutes. They may be absolute slugs the rest of the day, but when the red light goes on, their energy level is at its peak.

Remember, the viewer, and the News Directors you're trying to impress with your resume tape, don't care how hard you worked all day before the newscast. They just want to see the end result. It goes back to Bill Parcells' tacky quote: "Don't tell me about the pain, show me the baby."

Can you be at your best for just 22 minutes every day? If you think about it that way, and save your best for the studio, you'll take your anchoring to the next level.



DDR said...

What about being "up" for 3.5 hours as a morning anchor? Great tips, Grape! Thank you

-The Grape said...

Hmmmm... not sure if this applies to the zombie shift. In my case just being awake for 22 minutes would be a success.

Meanwhile, 3.5 times 22 = 77 minutes.