Great Broadcasters Aren’t Born They’re Made: Easy Ways to Overcome Nerves

Great Broadcasters Aren’t Born They’re Made: Easy Ways to Overcome Nerves

Saturday, August 22, 2010 at Monmouth racetrack was a drizzly, dismal day until the seventh race. Racetrack announcer Larry Collmus entered into the ranks of broadcast legends when he called a race whose finish was between the similarly-named horses Mywifenosevrything and Thewifedoesntknow.

Only an expert announcer could call such a race!


Collmus not only did not get flustered or tongue-tied, he had time to squeeze in an editorial comment: “Into the final furlong, Thewifedoesntknow, Mywifenosevrything; they’re one-two, of course they are…”

Collmus had complete command of his announcing, the race horse names, and the situation. This means he was prepared, whether for television or radio broadcasting.

When facing a broadcast, the more you can prepare ahead of time, the calmer you will be doing it. Read your news items. Review the video rolls. Ensure you know the correct pronunciation of names and places.


Place your body and hands in a neutral position. If you’re in a chair, sit on your suit jacket end to keep it from bunching around your shoulders. Keep your hands either on your papers or folded together in your lap.

If you must sit in a swivel chair, you should cross your ankles to prevent the chair from swiveling.

Eye Contacttelevision anchorwoman

Avoid looking like a nervous broadcaster by avoiding looking around nervously.

Keep your eyes on your camera; imagine talking face-to-face with a real person. Keep your face as animated and active as it would be in a personal chat.

If you are broadcasting a serious piece, imagine talking to your attorney, a judge, or your boss. If broadcasting a fluff piece, imagine talking to close friends.

Personal interviews also require eye contact. Your interviewee’s face and eyes can reveal a lot to you. Keep your eyes on them, not to increase their nervousness, but to show your own confidence.


A broadcaster breathing technique that stops shaky hands, prevents adrenaline from overwhelming you, and calms nerves is “combat tactical breathing,” used by the military to reduce stress:

  • Breathe in for four counts
  • Hold for four counts
  • Breathe out for four counts

The oxygen enriches your brain and helps calm you. Remember to continue breathing steadily and regularly through your broadcast. Periods in sentences are your natural breathing moments, as are shifts from one story to the next.

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