Reporting Techniques - Reporting with Gestures | Print |
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Written by Kelsea Wasoung   

When reporters use motions and gestures to tell a story, they appeal to 65 percent of the population who are visual learners.

These viewers better remember information when reporters use gestures that incorporate or emphasize key points of their story.

Why motions and gestures are important

Gestures and motions make the reporting feel more natural. People do not tend to stand completely stiff while talking to a friend. Moving and using natural antics during a report make the reporter more conversational, creating a better relationship with the audience.

Reporter Joscelyn Moes demonstrates how to effectively use gestures and motions in her professional reel.

Moes’ hand movements are natural and not over done. Her gestures are not too subtle that viewers question what she is doing, but are not too exaggerated that they look comedic.

How hand motions and gestures help guide the viewer through the story

In the first clip of her professional reel, Moes stands in front of the camera and then steps aside to let the viewers see debris from an explosion. By stepping aside to reveal the extent of the damage, it is more dramatic and therefore engaging.

The tactic of delaying the viewer from seeing what the reporter is discussing should not be used in all reports, as it is not necessarily dramatic if she steps aside for the audience to see a library.

In another segment from Moes’ professional reel, she sweeps her hand in front of her body to point out the fallen tree branches from a storm while the videographer simultaneously directs the camera to the broken branches. The audience naturally looks to where Moes directs them, allowing the story to flow.

She successfully uses these motions to guide the viewer visually through her story, a quality that Joan Curtis, founder of Total Communication Coaching, says is effective in engaging your audience.

Pairing words with action

Putting action to words allows viewers to better understand and remember the story.

Even when Moes doesn’t have something tangible to show the audience, she tends to move her hands when she says a key word or phrase to emphasize its importance, making the critical point clear to the viewer.

Deborah Potter, executive director of NewsLab, mentions how important it is to match words to visuals for the audience to better understand and remember a story in the article, “Broadcast and Online Journalism.”

Moes pairs actions with her words or touches an object related to the story she is covering, creating a more dynamic and memorable report.

Using movement to create a more engaging piece

In another segment of Moes’ professional reel, she kneels down to focus the audience’s attention on gravel-like material planes drop to extinguish wild fires. She also picks up the material and tosses it at the camera.

When she reports on the dangers of driving during winter, she picks up a chunk of ice to help visually explain why accidents occur.

These actions make her report more creative, which Joe Little says is the most important thing in a stand-up because people have personalities and want to see something interesting versus a reporter who only stands and talks in the video.


Kelsea Wasung is majoring in journalism with an emphasis in broadcast at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University. She is also enrolled in Barrett the Honors College and is expected to graduate with her Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in 2013. Kelsea has a passion for learning and sharing her knowledge with others. When she graduates she hopes to work as a field reporter, and eventually an anchor with a major network.

Kelsea writes her articles based off questions she has as a college reporter. She analyzes the work of other broadcasters to discover the best techniques they use and also researches broadcast topics of interest.