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How to be better at live reporting

overcoming nerves going live


I once met a seasoned television journalist, who told me he vomited every time he had to go live on screen. He was a wreck before each broadcast, and avoided going live whenever possible. That was years ago, just as the dawn of the BBC News24 channel was rising. Live reporting was not that common back then.

Now it’s an intrinsic part of our media landscape. Live reporting is a fundamental skill for all journalists, thanks to social media and it’s facility to broadcast whenever and wherever. 

But for many journalists, new and more established, the thought of it is enough to make them want to run and hide. It is so exposing, so demanding, no second chances, seat of your pants stuff, that it probably does make some of you feel physically sick with nerves. 

I know I am pretty much a lone voice on this, but I love live broadcasting. It is my forte, I find it exciting and challenging and have honestly never been sick before broadcasting live. 

But you don’t have to be odd like me, and love it, to be able to do it well. I offer mentoring on going live, and regularly run sessions as a guest lecturer too. 

Here’s a few quick tips to help you. 

  1. No-one ever remembers more than 3 things from anything they listen to. In fact you are lucky if it’s even 3. Most will recall one main fact. That is liberating for you. You do not need to cram lives full of every single thing you know, stick to 3 main points and what you want viewers to know about them. Don’t overwhelm them or you.
  2. Know what you want to say. Get clear on those 3 key points, make sure you know what you want to say, it stops waffle, stops you forgetting your words and keeps people interested.
  3. It’s not about you. People are not generally tuning in to see you, they are interested in what you are reporting on, or talking about. Stop fretting about how you look or sound, and focus on your audience.
  4. Slow down. Nerves make us speed up, our voices become higher and more strangled in sound, and our breathing quickens. It’s a dead give away. Slow down, take your time, remember to breath. It gives you time to think and makes you seem more in control.
  5. Take 3 long, deep breaths before going on air. Slowly in, slowly out. Twice as long out as in. This is a simple breathing technique which I use every single time before going live. It slows the heart rate, curbs the adrenaline spike and lowers your voice. Simple but completely effective.


Finally something to remember if all else fails ; NEVER WRONG FOR LONG !

I was taught that years ago on a BBC training course- in other words, if you are live, you can always correct yourself if you make a mistake.

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