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Eliminate distractions: Tips for TV talent

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BY KRIS MILGATE
It’s easy to mistake professionalism for vanity when you look at TV talent. For years, my banker thought I was totally put together with the perfect high-maintenance helmet hair, which I hoisted around any time I made a deposit after a live shot. Now she really knows me and realizes that’s far from true. I shoot stories in muddy boots and a ponytail, but things need to be more in place when I’m actually on camera. Not because I’m vain, but because I want to eliminate distractions.
Distractions make viewers miss the message. A crooked collar here. Fly-away hair up there. A sloppy microphone cord everywhere. Who cares what you’re saying when they have disorderly distractions to laugh at?
Keep viewers from missing the message by eliminating distractions.
Face
Spit out gum and chewing tobacco. Yes, I’ve really seen this on air.
Check nose for mucus activity: Frozen snot in the cold, runny snot when you have a cold.
Check teeth for leftovers. No reason to look like you’re missing a few due to a chunk of basil.
Minimize bushy brows; The same applies to unibrow.
Shave the 5 o’clock shadow, unless you’re after an intentionally rugged outdoor look.
Moisturize before applying makeup– Reduces flaky foundation and flaky skin.
Don’t shoot footage in full makeup, it makes some interviewees uncomfortable.
Apply powder over foundation if you sweat; Minimizes the shine and the drip.
Apply makeup at the last minute when possible, especially in hot and humid markets where makeup melts off your face.
Hair
Plenty of product keeps hair in check: Gel, foam, pomade, wax, spritz, finishing spray. Try it all.
Tame fly-aways with extra spray — The bottle stays in your bag, not in your bathroom.
In windy markets, ladies do well when keeping long hair shorter in the back with an A-line haircut — Keeps the back of your hair from flipping to the front over your face.
Buy market-specific products. What I use in dry Idaho is not the same as what I use in humid Illinois.
Keep eyes clear of hair. Hidden eyes are as uncomfortable as shifty eyes to a viewer.
Avoid hats; They shade the face in an awkward way on sunny days.
Clothing
Straighten your collar — And tie or necklace, if it’s a fancy affair.
Dust off or lint-roll shoulders, Scotch tape works in a pinch.
Avoid solid white, small stripes and busy patterns. Unless a jacket or vest is over them, they are hard on the lens and the eyes.
A nice round collar shirt is acceptable; A dirty old t-shirt or a t-shirt with a message on it doesn’t qualify.
Limit sparkly jewelry; Viewers are drawn to it like a feline chasing catnip.
Microphones
Keeps mic mess away from the neck area. Clip lavaliere mic mid-torso, out of frame, on a round-collar shirt.
Never give away your stick mic during an interview– You lose control of time and content.
Cut down on audio interference: Use windscreens on exposed mics.
Try layered clothing, it hides mic cords well.
Eliminate some wires: Try wireless mics; just remember to hide the mic transmitter on the waist.
Put wireless mic transmitter in zippered chest pocket of waders when standing in water, as high out of the water as possible without going around the neck.
Props
Use props with purpose; They’re more than a display in your hands.
Move with props. Cast with a rod rather than just hold it.
Have a reason for props. Hold a frozen fish head when explaining reasons for a tag in its snout.♦
–Kris Millgate is a freelance multimedia journalist based in southeast Idaho. She has been a member of OWAA since 2009. Contact her at kris@tightlinemedia.com.
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