Job applicants, be forewarned. TV news directors don’t want you to shout. They don’t want sing-song delivery, nasality or sloppy articulation, either, according to a 2005 survey by Ann Utterback. But they hear a lot of it. Former news director Dave Cupp, who now teaches at the University of North Carolina, writes in the journal Electronic News about watching a news director screen audition tapes for a reporter position. After just seven seconds, he’d had enough.
At that instant, [he] spoke aloud, literally talking back to the image on the TV screen. “No!” he said. “Stop yelling at me.” With that, he punched the Eject button…”I always try to give each applicant at least 10 seconds. But sometimes I just can’t.”
Does that sound heartless? It’s a fact of life for news directors who often have 100 or more applicants for every on-air opening. If you’re one of those applicants, you have to make a good impression in the first 10 seconds or less. And the way you sound will have a lot to do with it. In Utterback’s survey, 86 percent of TV news executives said voice has been a factor in their hiring or firing of on-air talent. Work on your voicing. Get some coaching. And please, don’t shout.