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The Talking Heads Were A Great Band, But Don’t Be One on TV



By Susan Tomai 

In my days as a TV news producer, I could be found early every morning in the control room – that sacred domain with its wall of TV monitors displaying all of the competitors’ morning shows.  And my job was not only to make sure we were putting on a great show every day – I also had to keep an eye on the competition’s celebrity “gets,” exclusive stories and great visuals.  The goal was to make our show more interesting, more topical, more visual, and at times more outrageous – which meant no producer wanted a boring talking-head spokesperson.

The screens that always caught my eye – and therefore the audience’s attention – were those that featured lively, animated spokespeople. These on-camera performers used strong, descriptive gestures. They spoke passionately, they told stories, they used props.  The audience paid attention – and we in the control room liked the results in the ratings. So if you’re interviewed on TV, don’t be a talking head.

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