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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.

More Give and Take

In the last two installments, we had co-anchors perform a couple of “give” and “take” focus exercises. In the take version, each anchor is looking for an opening to begin his description of the image they are holding. In the give focus version of the exercise, each anchor is looking for a place to ‘toss’ to her partner.

The third version of the game should be obvious. As each anchor becomes skilled at both giving and taking focus, the next level of the game is to combine both giving and taking focus. It sounds simple, but the dynamics are really pretty complicated.

It would seem like the person trying hard to ‘take’ focus would come off as selfish, but the flip side of that selfishness is taking the responsibility for the performance. Sometimes, taking focus is the most unselfish thing your co-anchor can do.

There are a couple of other variations on this exercise that we will address in future installments, but the central ideas remain the same:

1. The process of ‘giving’ and ‘taking’ focus is a psychological process that works independent of the copy or text being spoken.

2. What a good anchor team tries to do, either consciously or unconsciously, is to replicate the psychological processes that were behind the give and take exercises.

3. The give and take can be either generous or selfish. Generous ‘give’ and ‘takes’ are supportive and encouraging of the co anchor’s partner. Each transition, whether a ‘give’ or ‘take,’ builds on the previous partner’s description, transforms it into their own narrative, and then carries the focus long enough for the partner to catch her breath and move on to the next part of the story.

4. With the addition of a script, each anchor works hard to keep that sense of spontaneity. It’s partly illusion, but the reality is that the flow of the copy will seem much more motivated and natural, not just a change of focus as described by the script.

More variations on give and take next week.

Till then, keep breathing!