With proper breath support and a relaxed and healthy throat, vocal cords and mouth, the broadcaster can focus on developing a clear, interesting delivery style.
Good delivery includes enunciation of words; phrasing and emphasis; and control of pitch, pacing and tone.
The broadcaster must form each word fully and carefully. She or he should enunciate each sound in each word—pronounce it clearly and distinctly—in order to accomplish full word production. Full word production means saying each consonant and each vowel sound. In casual speech, we typically jam some sounds together and skip over others. Because we are accustomed to the speech patterns of our friends and family, we don't have any trouble understanding them. For example, a friend may say something that sounds like djeet yet? The combination of letters may look strange, but you would easily recognize the meaning: "Did you eat yet?" For broadcast news, the audience will hear content that includes new words and may introduce new concepts, so the reporter can't take a chance that listeners will miss the meaning if the sounds are run together.
The broadcaster must pronounce each consonant. Found it is found it not foun it or founi'. Going is pronounced as go-ing, not go 'n. Include each vowel, so that go-ing has both the go and the ing. The movie "My Fair Lady" gives a marvelous example of the struggle to produce sounds fully, as Eliza Doolittle practices saying "The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain." Each word is a distinct presentation. Simply put, don't run the words together. Listening to Charlie Gibson or Katie Couric can be instructive when you notice how precisely and distinctly these professionals form individual words. On the other hand, effective broadcast speech involves more than just clear enunciation of individual words. The broadcaster must communicate the words in phrases with the proper emphasis.
While pronouncing each word distinctly, the broadcaster must also combine the words into groups and present them in phrases. Whereas the end of a sentence requires the reader to stop completely, phrases are segments of sentences indicated by slight pauses in the reading. Suppose that each word received the same amount of time and emphasis, with a slight pause after each word. The presentation would sound choppy and irritating. Try reading Eliza Doolittle's exercise above out loud, giving the same amount of time and emphasis to each word. The. . . rain. .. in. . . Spain.. . stays. . . mainly. .. in.. . the. . . plain. Reading in such a deliberate manner is quite difficult. Now try grouping each two words together. The rain. . . in Spain. . . stays mainly. . . in the. . . plain. The first two word groups make some sense when coupled together, but the remainder of the sentence clearly needs to be grouped differently. In the certainly doesn't work as one phrase. Neither would the sentence sound right to be read as one single unit. The most natural way to read the sentence would be in two phrases: The rain in Spain. . . stays mainly in the plain. The reader naturally pauses slightly after Spain before completing the sentence. We take natural phrasing for granted in common conversation, but speaking to a mass audience may require special attention to proper phrasing—beginning with the writing.
Presenting broadcast news in clear and effective phrases depends on good writing. Highly skilled broadcasters can make the most out of poorly written copy, but there's no substitute for good writing. Beginning reporters may quickly realize that their copy needs improvement when they try to read it out loud. When the sentences are short, simple and conversational, the copy will easily fall into manageable phrases, but long sentences are very difficult to read clearly. Consider the following story by a reporter who investigated an illegal trash dump on a county road. He discovered that a church used to stand next to the site and found sunken spots in the ground, which indicated deteriorating wooden caskets in an unmarked cemetery. However, the county had no record of an owner for the property. Try reading his sentence aloud.
Records at the Washington County Commission of Revenue Office reveal that no one has claimed the small tract of land where once a church and now a trash pile stand.
The sentence does not lend itself to manageable phrases, no matter how much breath control and skill the reader brings to the words. Consider another way to give the information that makes it easier on the reader.
County tax records show that no one claims this trash pile—or the unmarked church cemetery buried below.
The second example is much clearer and easier to read. With the rewritten sentence, the reader has time to pause and, if necessary, breathe before continuing with the second part of the sentence. The audience will more easily understand the story, because the writing makes it easier for the broadcaster to say it.
In a good broadcast presentation, the reporter or anchor says each word distinctly and groups words together in logical phrases. Very slight pauses mark the phrases, and there is a complete stop at the end of each sentence. The phrasing and sentence breaks allow time for the broadcaster to take an additional breath, if necessary, and help the listener understand the story. Skill in oral presentation is essential—but remember that even the best broadcaster cannot overcome poor writing that does not lend itself to oral presentation.
When the story is written well, so that the broadcaster can present it in clear phrases with full breath support, the final step in bringing the news story to life is to find the proper emphasis and pitch for individual words. These choices reflect the interpretation of the reader.