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Jon Beaupré is a voice and performance consultant for radio and television performers. Under the name Broadcast Voice, he provides private training and workshops for reporters, anchors, sports and weather casters, and others working in electronic and broadcast media. He teaches in the Broadcast Communications program at California State University at Los Angeles, and conducts workshops and seminars with the Associated Press Radio and Television Association. He has been a fixture on the convention circuit, teaching workshops at a wide range of specialty journalism and broadcast conventions and stations on both coasts of the U.S.


I am often amazed by the vast number of mediocre and bad stand-ups that have become part of our daily fare of television news. In most cases, it is clear that the reporter spent considerably more time on their hair, clothes and make-up than then did thinking out their story. Here’s the deal: one of the reasons our business gets such a bum rap, is that many of us working in news have such overblown egos outsized opinions of themselves that the value of the underlying news is easy to miss. Here are some thoughts on really stand-out stand ups:

1. If your story doesn’t require a stand up to get from one part of the story to another, don’t do one. Just making sure your face is on the screen isn’t enough reason for doing the stand up. The ONLY reason for doing a stand up is to make a transition from one part of your story to another not closely related part of the story AND to add additional information in the visual that can’t be conveyed in the copy. If you can accomplish the same thing in a simple voice over, the humble reporter will skip the hair and make-up, skip the expensive sweaters, and skip the stand-up.

2. This is not to say that I dislike stand-ups. A good stand up brings life and information to a story that no other technique can. Most important, if at all possible, find some way to bring more information to the visual that you are in: a sign, a building shot, a stream of cars - use the stand-up to further the story, not to just have it stop on you.

3. If you have to do a stand-up, by all means, move, interact with your environment and connect with the space you are in. If you don’t interact with the environment, and simply stand on the street (any street!), it appears to be a stand-up for stand-up sake. For example, if you are doing your stand up in an office, and something important happened at a nearby desk, touch the desk, point to where the action happened and move around the desk. Same thing outdoors: if you are covering a car accident, and the car skidded several yards down the highway, indicate where the skid marks are, and if possible, move along them to show where the vehicle came to rest. The only limitation to doing creative stand-ups is your own imagination. If you can look at a situation and see how you can both move through the space and bring additional information to the story, that is a good justification for a stand up, especially if the information can’t be easily conveyed any other way.

Some quick examples: one client of mine did a nifty stand up with a wireless microphone in a local mall, where she ascended from one floor below. The VO described all the Christmas decorations as the camera panned across the front of a number of stores, and as the camera came to the escalator, our reporter rose into the shot to complete her stand up. Pretty nifty. Another: in a story I produced on Microsoft some years ago, the reporter had to explain that this corner of the Microsoft Campus had hundreds of employees. The camera followed her down a sidewalk on the campus, walking against traffic. As she rounded a shallow corner, the big, brass Microsoft sign slid into the frame. In one shot we got lots of employees and where they were going. One more just for fun: In a story on the crazy world of Miami politics, one student reporter started her stand up very close to her face, and as she reached the end of her first track with the words “Que pasa Miami?”, the camera pulled back to reveal an 20 foot tall oversized sculpture in a corporate courtyard of a question mark.

4. Don’t ever settle for just standing still in a medium shot just to get the project done. If your videographer resists this kind of work (and frankly, I’ve never found one who has - they generally want to try new interesting stuff), have a chat and figure out how to get on the same page. In general, your videographer may in fact be your best source of ideas for doing stand-out stand ups.

Oh, and of course, keep breathing!