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Backstage Experts

Speaking in Sound Bites is Key for On-Air Talent

Speaking in Sound Bites is Key for On-Air Talent
Photo Source: YouTube

A sound bite, in TV speak, is a compact, concise-but-impactful point made by an on-air talent. A selection and ordering of words that still grabs attention, makes a point, and leaves an impression.

The length of your “sound bite” depends on the parameters: How long is the segment?  How many people are involved? If you’re a pundit on CNN, for example, you may only have 10 seconds to say what you want to say. If it’s a multi-person debate, you may only get a couple of seconds.

In a situation like this, preparation is key. Going into the segment, surely you’ll know your stuff and will have done your research. From there, order the points that are most important. Shrink them into short, digestible sentences while still getting your point across. Your host will appreciate brevity, especially if they need to keep the show moving, throw to a package or break.

A few more suggestions...

Consider doing more writing.
I’ve noticed that some of the best talkers on television and podcasts are also terrific writers. Whether or not you actually publish what you write, getting into the habit is a good thing—being able to think of dozens of ways to say the same thing is a practiced, learned trait that will go a long way. What metaphors or easily understandable comparisons can you make to make your point stick quickly with the audience?

READ: How to Become a Correspondent on ‘The Daily Show’

Practice the art of standing out.
Watch others and learn from their wins and losses on camera. Study what they do when the camera isn’t on them. Do they react to their counterparts? Do they stay still? Do they interrupt? These little things might become the difference between being a one-time booking and a recurring guest.

The key to being coherent in your sound bite is to have a strong opinion. If you’re on a segment and are being asked a question, make sure you have a stance or an answer and at least one point to back it up (as time allows). Make that point descriptive and vivid, but compact.

This advice applies to anytime you’re being recorded and there’s a time restriction: a TV segment, a radio hit, a social media video post, etc. This doesn’t necessarily apply to long-form mediums, like a podcast. If you have unlimited time and room to breathe, definitely use the time you have. But if you don’t, use these tips to formulate your best appearance! You’ll be on the right track to the sound bite success!

Arda Ocal is a broadcaster with ESPN, MSG Networks, an analyst with TRT World and a panel host/moderator for SAG AFTRA. Arda is also a social media consultant for brands and personalities. Follow him on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook @ArdaOcalTV.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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